There are probably a couple of things we football fans can remember about the Peruvian national team. No 1 is the iconic white jerseys with the thick red sash. No 2 is their greatest ever player, Teofilo Cubillas. He played for Allianz Lima and helped his team reach the FIFA World Cup quarter finals at Mexico 1970 before being eliminated by eventual winners Brazil.
I saw him take Scotland apart in Cordoba, Argentina in 1978 from my seat in the press box at Estadio Chateau Carrera. Joe Jordan had put his team ahead in the 19th minute before the South Americans equalised just before the half time whistle. Cubillas got the assist and then scored twice himself after the interval, one a rocket of a free kick past Alan Rough in the 70th and 76th minutes.
In 1982 in La Coruna I watched him and his team lose 5-1 to Poland at Estadio de Reza while he was a Ft Lauderdale Strikers player in the NASL. Back to 1978 and they faced Argentina in the second round. The way it worked was that the host nation needed to win by 4 goals in order to pip Brazil for a place in the final. Well, they won 6-0 and ever since there have been tales of a 'FIX' ! They beat Holland 3-1 to take the trophy in the final at Estadio Monumental
After a 0-0 tie at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington, the All Whites had a delayed journey to the Aeroporto Jorge Chavez. They were delayed in Iquique Airport in northern Chile for a three hour unscheduled stop after a chartered flight from Wellington via Auckland and Buenos Aires.The pilot was informed that the Lima airport would not allow them to land until 10.30pm. They decided to stay in a luxury hotel by the Pacific in the suburb of Miraflores instead of a hotel next to Estadio Nacional, and did not arrive until aftet midnight. Fireworks set off during the night and some Shamans with snakes and magic outside the stadium willed the Peruvians to victory.
Green lazers were aimed by fans at the Kiwis, who actually played in All Black, like their rugby team, so as not to class with the home teams uniform. A goal either side of half time from Jefferson Farfan and Christian Ramos gave the Peruvians a 2-0 victory. The referee was French Referee of the Year Clement Turpin from near Lyon. The first goal set off the Earthquake Monitor, such was the noise and the stadium rocking with jubilant fans.
My only visit to Lima was about 30 years ago. Peruvian airlines were banned from USA so I got off a Cayman Airways jet at the island nation.'s airstrip and walked 50 yards to the Aero Peru plane. On board we were handed sheets and told we would all play BINGO ! The return flight on Faucett Airlines allowed a stoppover in Iquitos in the Amazonian jungle for an extra $1.00. The city is only accessible by air or river ferries. It is 3,000 km to the Atlantic and the Amazon is still 2km wide that far upstream. A couple of days down river in a lodge with mosqito nets and some parana stew and a visit to half naked tribes was unforgettable. Again Faucett had to land in Montego Bay, Jamaica and an Air Jamaica flight on to Miami.
So, after a 36 year wait, Peru will be in Russia for the finals.