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Magpies' South American hits and misses

by Matt Newsum

Newcastle United's new Argentine winger Jonas Gutierrez joins a list of South Americans to have made the switch to Tyneside.

Argentines, Brazilians, Colombians, Chileans, Peruvians and Paraguayans have all pulled on the black and white jersey, admittedly with differing results.

BBC Sport takes a look back at some of the hits and misses from the Western Hemisphere.

GEORGE ROBLEDO - CHILE

George Robledo
Robledo scored the winner in the 1952 FA Cup final against Arsenal

The son of a Chilean father and an English mother, Robledo was something of a trailblazer when he joined Huddersfield Town, and then Barnsley Football Club, during the Second World War.

Football allowed the young Robledo to escape the mines and he was a success - signing for Newcastle United in 1949 for 26,500.

That move earned him a place in Geordie folklore, and he struck up a partnership with local hero Jackie Milburn that helped Newcastle to win the 1951 FA Cup where they beat Blackpool 2-0, and he scored against Arsenal a year later to help them retain the trophy.

Robledo left for Colo-Colo as one of English football's most successful imports - hitting 127 goals in 151 games.

BBC Sport verdict - HIT

MIRANDINHA - BRAZIL

Mirandinha
Mirandinha suffered with injury but his flair excited fans

Even players from Europe were still something of a novelty in English football when Brazilian international Mirandinha touched down in the North East to join Newcastle for 575,000 in 1987.

Mirandinha's stay in England was a mixed bag - he scored spectacular goals and delighted fans but conversely frustrated his team-mates and struggled with injury.

His final season at St James' saw them relegated, rooted to the bottom of the old First Division, and a lack of fitness meant he spent more time on the bench than on the pitch.

A return to former club Palmeiras followed, but the mercurial Brazilian never again reached the heights of fame he achieved in two seasons on Tyneside.

BBC Sport verdict - MISS

FAUSTINO ASPRILLA - COLOMBIA

Faustino Asprilla
Asprilla tormented Barcelona at St James' Park on that night in 1997

Colombian forward Faustino Asprilla was already a well-known face in European football when he was recruited by manager Kevin Keegan for the Toon title push in 1995-96.

Skilful, deceptively quick with a leggy stride, and lethal in front of goal - Asprilla was a world-class striker whose talents were polished with Parma in Serie A.

Much like Mirandinha before him, Asprilla was an enigma - a devastating hat-trick in the Champions League against Barcelona stunned the Catalan giants but all too often the side seemed unable to accommodate such an unpredictable talent.

In the event, Newcastle let slip the Premier League, and the Colombian eventually returned to Parma having scored nine goals in 48 games.

BBC Sport verdict - HIT AND MISS

NOLBERTO SOLANO - PERU

Nolberto Solano
Solano was popular with both players and fans alike

'Nobby' as he was known to the fans, arrived on Tyneside in 1998 to little fanfare, but swiftly became one of the most popular players in the club's recent history.

A likeable footballer, his dynamic wing-play and accuracy from dead-ball situations added new dimension to then manager Sir Bobby Robson's side and helped them to two top-four finishes in the early part of the new millennium.

606: DEBATE

Although the Peruvian was sold in January 2004, he returned to the club in August 2005 in a move which delighted supporters who were upset with his initial departure.

The much-revered winger added new strings to his bow with some impressive displays at full-back, but eventually signed for West Ham United to be with his family nearer London and was released at the end of the 2007-08 season.

BBC Sport verdict - HIT

FUMACA - BRAZIL

Fumaca
Fumaca was a distinct flop at St James' Park

If Robledo was clearly a talent, Asprilla was mercurial and Gavilan just a little too naive - then goodness knows what words would be used to describe Jose Antunes Fumaca.

Having shown his abilities in German regional football with clubs such as Paderborn and Turkiyemspor Berlin, then Benfica in Portugal, Fumaca was snapped up by Barnsley, before enjoying a short-lived spell with Crystal Palace.

His final stop on a tour of England came with Newcastle - but just six games later Fumaca, or Formica as he was cruelly dubbed by fans, was off, never to return to English football.

The Brazilian now plays his football once again with Turkiyemspor in Germany.

BBC Sport verdict - MISS

CLARENCE ACUNA - CHILE

Clarence Acuna
Acuna pictured without pirate costume

Chilean midfielder Clarence Acuna first rose to prominence as part of the Chile side that stunned England at Wembley in February 1998.

A stylish midfielder, Acuna arrived with plaudits ringing in his ears, and initially he seemed to settle well alongside players such as Solano and Gary Speed.

However increasing cameos from the bench saw him fall away from the first-team picture, and a drink-driving ban which saw him nabbed by police dressed as Captain Hook did little to impress the Magpies' management.

After three years and just 59 games Acuna left the club and returned to Chile without making a real impression on Tyneside.

BBC Sport verdict - MISS

CHRISTIAN BASSEDAS - ARGENTINA

Christian Bassedas
Bassedas barely figured in his three years at St James' Park

Bassedas arrived at St James' with an international pedigree with Argentina, and along with compatriot Daniel Cordone, promised much for Sir Bobby Robson's side.

The midfielder had built up a reputation as a handy playmaker with Velez Sarsfield, helping them to a string of Apertura and Clausura titles in his native country.

However, Newcastle fans were to see very little of the Buenos Aries-born schemer due to a combination of poor form and injury.

Unsurprisingly, three years, 24 games and one goal later Bassedas parted company with the club - and now commentates on the Premier League for Fox Sports in Spain.

See also: Daniel Cordone - Argentina

BBC Sport verdict - MISS

DIEGO GAVILAN - PARAGUAY

Diego Gavilan
Gavilan struggled to impose himself on English football

Diego Gavilan came to England in January 2000 with the nickname 'Sparrowhawk' - a reference to his pace and ability to strike - but fans barely saw a glimpse of the young forward's potential.

He was just 19 when he arrived, and English football seemed to be too much too soon for a player used to a slower, more technical style.

Newcastle stayed loyal, sending him out on loan to Mexican side Tecos in 2002 before he left for Internacional in Brazil on a permanent basis in 2003.

His spell in England did not affect his reputation back in his homeland, and he was on the bench for Paraguay against the English national team at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

BBC Sport verdict - MISS


see also
Magpies sign Argentine Gutierrez
02 Jul 08 |  Newcastle
West Ham release veteran Solano
12 Jun 08 |  West Ham
Gavilan to leave Magpies
27 Jan 03 |  Newcastle United
Acuna leaves Newcastle
14 Oct 03 |  Newcastle
Asprilla seeks Newcastle return
20 Jan 01 |  Newcastle United
Magpies sign Bassedas
01 Jun 00 |  Football
The boys from Brazil
18 Jan 01 |  Football
FA Cup's emotional ties
18 Feb 02 |  FA Cup


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