A day with the legend that is Tino

By Lee Ryder on Feb 25, 09 06:59 PM

The last time I saw Faustino Asprilla was a cold wet day on Merseyside sitting in the Park End with Newcastle United's FA Cup hopes seemingly about to go up in smoke.

It was one of those sinking feelings, not only because I was sitting around Evertonians getting increasingly annoyed by my intoxicated mate who seemed to forget we were sat in a home area, but because one of Newcastle's best talents was leaving the field and didn't look like he wanted to play for the Mags anymore.

You couldn't blame him.

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Just under two years after he'd been sold the dream by Kevin Keegan of playing in an attacking line-up including David Ginola, Peter Beardsley, Les Ferdinand, Rob Lee and Keith Gillespie and then later Alan Shearer, Tino was playing alongside an out of condition John Barnes, veteran Stuart Pearce and the other legend from that era Des Hamilton.

The dream had suddenly gone flat and Tino's head had been turned by a move back to Parma, the club which Newcastle had paid £6.7million for back in 1996.

For the record, Ian Rush replaced Tino that day, scored and Newcastle went on to lose the cup final.

But they lost a helluva lot more the day Tino left Toon.

When Tino was on form, he was explosive.

Barcelona, Metz, the day he helped destroyed Coventry before being stretchered off like a king to wave to the crowd after a 4-0 win, the two goal blitz against Sheff Wed, his stunning free-kick against Joe Kinnear's Wimbledon, the backflips, the Cryuff turns, the madness - that was Asprilla.

But when he was off form or didn't fancy it or couldn't be bothered, he was flat.

And at Goodison that day he was flat.

Lee Ryder with Tino AsprillaOver 11 years on from his last appearance for the Toon, the cult hero was back on Tyneside and happy to show off his skills as he visited friends and handed out written invitations to stars selected to play in his testimonial later this year in his native Colombia.

You might forgive a worldwide jetsetter for forgetting some of things that happened to him while wearing a black and white shirt

OK, you'd remember scoring a treble against Barca and probably remember swinging your Toon shirt round a corner flag before getting booked.

But through Asprilla's unique combination of broken English with a bit of Spanish chucked in, Tino recalls everything.

From being sent to the old Durham training ground on days when he was meant to be at St James's to being sent to St James's when he was meant to be at Durham by jokers John Beresford and Rob Lee hellbent on making him late.

He remembers Julies back in the day on the Quayside.

He recalls being knocked out of bed by Phillippe Albert just an hour before a big game at St James's Park!

And there is even an apology to Joe Kinnear for that free-kick at Selhurst Park!

And after recreating that Cryuff turn at Boro and his goals against Barca, Tino is happy to relive the happy memories.

Unlike many of the overseas stars who have came through St James's at least he has the ability to recall what a great place it is.

After spending a large chunk of the day with Asprilla and pals, now in a bleak season it's the usual feeling of enjoying looking back and then getting hit with the usual wall of depression.

Asprilla, hopes that Newcastle can recapture similar days to the Entertainers, I'd take 25% of that now.

Thanks for bringing back the memories Tino, a true legend.


deek said:

I still remember when we signed Tino, I had seen him playing in some european game and he scored a great goal swivelling at the edge of the box and rifling in a shot. I was ecstatic that someone that good was prepared to come here. He was great on his day.


tommy coates said:

TINO them were the days still that is history andNEWCASTLE has plenty of it.Still nice to of him to remeber,MONEY has teke over or the lack of it.

mark douglas said:

Tino theres only one Tino

Tony Toon said:

.... and yet the "experts" in the south still believe it was Tino who cost us the title. Experts? They're having a laugh. I can't remember Shearer's debut, or Ginola's, or Beardley's second coming - but i remember Tino's debut like it was yesterday. Unbelievable talent!

pedi said:

Even at £6.7m we wouldnt go for him, according to lambias, mike now only wants to invest £5-10m A YEAR!! If you haven't heard his bbc interview check out and listen.
He even suggests we have a squad as good as villa's! The board still think jk is the best man we could have in charge of us. So when we lose owen+viduka in the summer, who can we get to replace them for such a pittance? Jk couldnt attract the modern equivalent of asprilla, so how can we progress? I despair.

Big Si said:

I love it when old legends like Tino re-appear. But I also hate it, because it's pittiful what NUFC have become, KK and SJH created a thing of beauty that has now become a monster.

TamBo said:

Great player - but - like Rodney Marsh for Man City in the 70's - he probably did cost us the title.
Sorry Tony Toon - but I happen to agree with the experts.

gordon said:

Its a shame when the author of this article has to fantasise about previous triumphs instead of exposing the mickey mouse chairman that is Llambias,after this week of Q+A there is plenty of amminition.

brian from durham said:

Agreed Gordon, have you noticed the media offensive that is now trying to paint Ashley into the good guy,and only we peasants are spoiling the future.

Blacky said:

Completely agree with comments above , why no discussion about that load of b@llocks coming out of Llambias mouth this week ? Ashleys gonna put just gonna put in £5 mill a season ? £18 + million for xisco and collocini ??? Buy now pay later from the richest club in the world in the Given deal ??
It seems that anyone affiliated with the local rag is terrified to speak out about the shambles that run our club.

londontoon said:

Only Kevin Keegan could bring such magic as Tino to SJP, thats why this generation will never see it again..

MA & DL say they didn't realise what they had done or the impact it would have when KK left?) have they been living in cave? have they ever watched football in england?) -but have learnt from their mistakes.!? well if you have settle the KK dispute by bringing him back and getting rid of DW -or you've learnt nothing...

jeff said:

the night tino beat barca was unbelievable,the toon playing and beating the best in europe,those were the days.

Chris Gray said:

Asprilla was a magnificent player and a great signing by Keegan. BUT - he did cost us the league (or contributed to our losing it). On his debut he had come on as sub and set up Watson at Middlesbrough for the winner (or equaliser, I can't remember). That should have been his role for the rest of that season - a sub or impact player. Then he could have been built in to the team the following season. I went to West Ham late that season and Keegan broke up the great formation we had in order to accommodate Asprilla. Gillespie was dropped, and Beardsley played wide on the right. We were rubbish - no balance etc and lost 2-0. That was the night we started worrying, if you remember. Batty for Clark was fine - an improvement. Asprilla? Fantastic, unique, a great player, and a great signing. But - and I'm no southerner! - he, at least in part, cost us the league. Not his fault of course, but ...


Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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