Things come full circle for Peru’s Paolo Guerrero

Peru's talismanic captain had to go through a long legal battle against a 14-month dope ban to be able to play in Russia.

Paolo Guerrero became the 3rd oldest South American to score in the World Cup.   -  Getty Images

It was a bitter-sweet ending for Peru and its iconic captain Paolo Guerrero after he fired home a volley in the 50th minute against Australia in a 2-0 win. The joy among the Peru’s supporters was evident as they celebrated every touch on the ball with a loud “Ole” chant. But back in October 2017, these scenes were something the fans and the team couldn’t have imagined.

Though the South American nation was facing a New Zealand side that was ranked 121 in FIFA rankings in the final qualifier, it was without Guerrero, who was banned for 14 months by FIFA after testing positive for metabolite of cocaine at a World Cup qualifier against Argentina.

On November 15, 2017 the National Stadium in Peru’s capital Lima, celebrated a national holiday after the team secured the final, 32nd spot at the 2018 World Cup by beating New Zealand 2-0. It was a historical moment in Peruvian football as it qualified for the World Cup after a 36-year hiatus. But Guerrero’s importance to the team and country was clearly visible when the Incas celebrated wearing t-shirts with his photo.

An eight-month long legal battle commenced during which Guerrero received the support of his rivals with France, Australia and Denmark’s captains signing a request to lift the ban on the 34-year old. In May 2018, Switzerland’s supreme court granted an interim order to freeze the ban on Guerrero after he argued that the stimulant was consumed accidentally through contaminated tea.

Though the La Blanquirroja ended its World Cup campaign prematurely and Guerrero’s ban could be imposed again, he goes home with a hand in both of Peru’s goals after a historic return to the big stage.

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