Tino Asprilla believes he could’ve “won the Ballon d’Or” if he played for one of the big clubs and slammed modern football.
The now retired Colombian striker is in Italy to celebrate Parma’s Centenary and spoke to the Gazzetta dello Sport about his career.
“Nobody knew me before I came to Parma. I was fast and dribbled past players to head straight for the goal. I was creative and unpredictable, which I still am. I also played my entire career with a knee that had not been operated on properly.
“I had great qualities and if I had worn the jersey of Juventus, Milan or Inter, perhaps I’d have won the Ballon d’Or. With all due respect, if Pavel Nedved won it...”
The former Newcastle United fan favourite is unimpressed with the current football scene in Italy and all over the world.
“Back then strikers were less protected by referees and it was tougher to play. If someone fouls Leo Messi now, everyone starts crying from Argentina to New Zealand. When they beat up me, Gabriel Batistuta or Marco Van Basten nobody complained.
“It’s much easier to be a forward nowadays. You aren’t confronted by players like Franco Baresi or Pietro Vierchowod. I still have nightmares about them...
“I earned money, but a lot less than players do now,” continued Asprilla. “Nowadays any useless flop brings home in a month what Van Basten used to in a year. And there aren’t any Van Bastens around now.”
Asprilla is now 43 and looks back over some of his more bizarre moments, including prison for firing a machine gun near his farm and shooting during a training session in Chile.
“I spent 10 days in prison, then they couldn’t handle me anymore... As for the training ground incident, it was a toy gun, just a joke to motivate my teammates.
“I now have a team of youngsters, the Club Atletico Faustino Asprilla, and enjoy time with my family, friends and women! That’s not banned, is it?
“Next year at the World Cup I will be a journalist commentating for Radio Caracol. Speaking of which, Colombia are fantastic and have already qualified.”