Jorge Soto is one of the best Peruvian players in recent times.
He ranged from a fullback to a winger, and played many places across the pitch. He was a versatile player out wide and was integral to the Sporting Cristal side that reached the Libertadores final in 1997 alongside Julinho, Bonnet and of course, Nolberto Solano.
Brian Bertie managed to get an interview with him.
Hi Jorge, how are you?
I’m good. Happy to have you here so I can share some information in relation to your questions.
What was one of the most memorable goals that you’ve scored in your career?
It’s important. The goals I’ve had a chance to score at Sporting Cristal like in 2003 the overhead kick against Rosario Central at the Estadio Nacional. I’ve had a lot of good goals, especially some of the goals I’ve scored against Chilavert who always talked in the press and the tension that was had between the 2 of us at the time in the year where we reached the Libertadores final.
Chilavert spoke badly of you several times. Did that fire you up against Velez or the teams he was at when you had to take him on?
Yes, I was motivated to score against him. For all the things that has happened in the week prior to the game, he was asking who I was in the press, if I lived in a basement and that nobody knew who I was. We had the chance to play 2 games against them. We drew 0-0 in Lima and went to Argentina wanting to qualify for the next round. I calmly scored the goal with a few minutes left because we wanted to win the game. Afterwards, he was more aware of everything he said. I’m very thankful of that campaign we had at Sporting Cristal. 1997 was one of the best years I’ve had in my footballing career.
How is your relationship with Chilavert today?
After, I had the opportunity to go to Pibe Valderamma’s sending off and I ran into Chilavert. We we’re chatting there and laughing about our problems of the past. Then he told me that he did it more because of the press and to put pressure on the opposing team. We improved our initiative around that time.
So the relationship has gotten better?
Yes, the relationship has gotten a lot better. I’ve played a lot of pickup games with him and the relationship between us 2 is a lot better now than before.
Who was the manager that showed you the most?
Every single manager I try to take advantage of their style. Juan Carlos Oblitas was one who I learned a lot from, when he was the manager of the national team. I learned a lot from Paulo Autori and Sergio Markarian. Also in the youth teams, the professor Alvarez at Municipal who taught me a lot of things. He played me in almost every position and versatility was easier when I became a professional.
The press here made the trip to Chile in 1997 for the World Cup qualifiers sound like a war. Can you tell us a bit about that atmosphere on the trip to Chile?
The atmosphere was complicated. Like us, they also wanted to qualify for that world cup. We had to play fire with fire. We knew it was an important game and we got the 3 points at home against them. They knew if they won they would be almost in due to the goal difference they had over us. It was a really bad night because everything went wrong. The booed national anthem, not letting us sleep, they scored many goals in succession. We tried to tie the game but after the second and from there things just went downhill.
How do you get along with your brother Jose Soto?
A lot better now than when we were both professional footballers. When we played against each other clasicos Sporting Cristal vs Alianza Lima, there was a huge competitiveness between us. He was the captain there and I was Cristal’s captain. In between weeks, we didn’t talk too much because he had to play for the shirt and same with me. It was a good rivalry though on the pitch. Now that we’ve both retired, we talk a lot more especially about football and he’s now the manager of Manucci in Trujillo. I’m also helping out as a coach at Cristal.
The current crop of Peruvians on the national team were in a similar situation to you when you went to Chile in 1997, but the difference is that these actually managed to qualify. What is your opinion on the current generation?
I think because of that game against Chile, Juan Carlos Oblitas told the players exactly what to be careful of to not have the same happen again. In that game, the Chileans put a lot of pressure on us and this time with the Argentinians. I think the national team now did what they needed to do. This past 2017 they didn’t lose a single game. They had the consistency and we knew they had what it took to qualify. Now I’m calm and hopeful that Peru can qualify for the second round in the World Cup.
Do you talk to a few of the national team players today?
Yes of course. I have a good relationship with most. With Alberto Rodriguez who I played alongside at Cristal, Jefferson Farfan, Paolo Guerrero, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to Aldo Corzo, Luis Advincula and also Yoshimar Yotun. Now they have the chance to play in the World Cup and I hope they do well.
The interview was uploaded on The Peruvian Waltz’ Youtube channel. You can listen to the interview with original spanish audio here.