Cabanas – The Springboard
Born in Asuncion on 5 August 1980, Cabanas started out at a club in Itaugua, a town situated 35km from die Paraguayan capital. His coach there was Alicto Solalinde, who had won the Copa Lihertfielores with Olimpia in 1979 and who, on seeing Cabanas ability and eye for goal, immediately recommended him to Pedro Nelson Fleytas, then coach of the Paraguayan U-17s.
Cabanas went on to play youth football for Paraguay at every level. He took part in the 1997 South American Under-17 Championship in Paraguay, the 1999 South American Under-20 Championship in Argentina and the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Nigeria that same year. Shortly afterwards he made his debut for the senior team at the Hong Kong Stadium on 26 January 2001 in a friendly march between Paraguay and Korea Republic which ended 1-1.
At club level, he took his first steps with Paraguayan side 12 de Octubre, where he first became known in his home country, particularly during his debut season in 1998-99 when he scored 17 goals in 33 matches. He then moved to Guararii for six months and rejoined 12 de Octubre before leaping to international fame at Chilean club Audax Italiano, where he scored 38 goals in 89 matches and was top scorer in the 2003 Chilean Apercura with 18 goals. However, before he was able to claim even greater honours in the world of football that today still remembers him as young talent with a brilliant future, he suffered one of the pitfalls of bis profession, a knee-ligament injury rhat kept him on the sidelines for a long time. However, even that failed to hamper either his goalscoring instinct or his career as he came back with all guns blazing. By this time he was 22 and ready to make another big career move. ”It is every player’s aim to play in a big European league,” he has said on more than one occasion, expressing a dream that he still hopes to realise