Faustino Asprilla is a cult hero amongst many Newcastle United fans; the Columbian spent less than 3 years at the club but in that time he won many admirers with his flamboyant style of play. But where is he now?
Asprilla arrived at Newcastle in the 95/96 season and is blamed by many for Newcastle failure to win the league title that season. His inconsistent performances have been cited as the reason that Newcastle threw away the position they found themselves in. But that is too harsh a view, the fact is that Newcastle and Kevin Keegan simply couldn’t handle the pressure of the situation. Asprilla actually had a positive impact; he inspired a comeback against Middlesborough; he was the best player in a Newcastle jersey on the pitch when they lost to West Ham and then tore them to shreds in the home fixture. His arrival simply coincided with dips in form for many of Newcastle’s most potent weapons and he was brilliant in the first half of the pivotal game against Manchester United. The high point for Asprilla came in 1997 when he scored a sublime hat-trick against Barcelona to inspire Newcastle to a 3-2 victory over the Catalan giants. After that glorious night, Asprilla’s career faltered and he returned to Parma where he spent a year before doing the rounds at various Brazilian and Columbian clubs.
Asprilla announced his official retirement from football in July 2009, but it had been over five years since he had been employed by a club. He continued to court controversy in June 2008 when he was arrested for firing a machine-gun at security forces near his farm in Columbia. He was placed under house arrest on charges of weapons possession and criminal damage. This was not Asprilla’s first brush with the law as in 1995 he was fortunate to escape jail for firing a gun outside a disco in Columbia.
Since his football career ended, Asprilla has also featured on a number of reality shows in Columbia where his charisma has earned him many fans. He has also set up his own football academy where he helps to train young, talented players in his hometown. Asprilla will always be a player who divides opinion amongst fans, but his talent was never in doubt and he lit up the Premiership for all too brief a period. His performance against Barcelona is one of the greatest the Toon faithful will ever see.