Cult Heroes - Faustino Asprilla
Born in 1969, Faustino Asprilla entered into the world of Colombian football at the peak of its insanity. After a strong year with Cucuta he moved over to the Medellin based Atletico Nacional, bankrolled at the time by Pablo Escobar.
It turned out owning a Colombian football team in the 80’s was a pretty handy way of muddying the waters between ill gotten gains and above board earnings and after a solid season in which he helped the side to a league title the club were more than happy to accept a $10 million fee and young Tino was off to Europe.
His first taste of continental football would in many ways sum up Asprilla - brilliance and madness in equal measure. On course to helping Parma win the Cup Winners Cup he scored four times in eight games, including two in a 2-1 semi-final win.
However an injury picked up while back home in Colombia barred him from the final - the cause of the injury? Well, kicking through a bus door of course.
"A bus driver smashed into my car, and then when I got out of the car to get onto the bus, he shut the door on me… when I kicked it, my foot went through the glass but got cut as it came out. I was furious. If I'd got into the bus, I would have hit him, but he escaped."
Right, all sounds very normal. He sat that one out but Parma won anyway. He again starred as Parma collected the UEFA Cup in 1995, which, including the European Super Cup won the year before, made it an impressive three European trophies in three seasons in Italy
But fallouts with manager Nevio Scala, mostly centring around Asprilla’s partying and unwillingness to train, saw him depart for Newcastle in 1996
He stepped off his private jet in a giant fur coat and proceeded to spend two mediocre years at the club, a hat-trick against Barcelona a clear standout moment.
After a short spell back with Parma he bounced around a few clubs before retiring in 2004
He now spends his time on his ranch in Colombia, collecting valuable guns and horses and gifting the world with such goods as ‘Tino’ branded condoms.
While he’s been accused of squandering a truly great career, Tino disagrees, he reckons he had a good time. So that’s fair enough I guess.
Words by Andy Gallagher