Friday February 3 2012
Arrivederci Crespo

A tearful Hernan Crespo has said goodbye to Parma and Italian football. Antonio Labbate pays tribute to one of Serie A’s best ever foreign players.

“I can’t believe that I was applauded off the field of play.” That was a young Hernan Crespo, in March 1997, as he was replaced by Sandro Melli with 10 minutes left of the League game between Parma and Cagliari. The Argentine had scored twice, the second an aesthetically pleasing scissor-kick following a cross from Dino Baggio.

Crespo’s surprise at the reaction of the Tardini faithful was understandable. After all, sections of the crowd had spent large parts of the season prior to that performance jeering the boy who was still just 21. It was primarily thanks to the insistence of boss Carlo Ancelotti that the South American not only eventually  flourished at Parma, but Italian football in general.

“The public whistled me because I wasn’t scoring and they booed Ancelotti because he kept picking me,” the former Argentina international, 35 goals in 64 caps, once stated. “It was hard for both of us, but we eventually convinced everyone and that was the season that we finished second behind Juventus.”

Ancelotti was certain from the off that the summer signing from River Plate was something a bit special. Sure he was raw, but the comparison with 1986 World Cup winner Jorge Valdano, made by Daniel Passarella, stood up to a degree and not just because of their bushy hair or muscular frames.

The tactician not only liked the South American as a footballer, he also approved of the way he conducted himself. The professional Crespo arrived in Italy with a motto – “meglio fare che parlare” – which loosely translated that he would let his feet do the talking. The former Milan midfielder gave him the stage to do that.

Crespo scored 12 goals in 27 games during his maiden Serie A campaign, just two shy of top scorer Enrico Chiesa’s tally, which came from an extra two appearances. He continued to ripple the net with some regularity for the Gialloblu, and in some style, until Lazio broke the world transfer record to sign him in 2000 for £35m. He would later move on to Inter and Chelsea, before being re-united with his Tardini teacher at Milan.

“Ancelotti allowed me to become a footballer at Parma, then he wanted me again with the Rossoneri,” Crespo commented. “If there wasn’t that comeback by Liverpool in Istanbul then we would have won the Champions League together. I still think about that game and it’s hard to find an answer to what happened. My brace in the Final was thus forgotten…”

Milan had the opportunity to keep Crespo at the end of the 2004-05 season, but Vice-President Adriano Galliani overruled Ancelotti. He subsequently returned to Chelsea, but England wasn’t Italy, the Premiership wasn’t Serie A. Inter called and Crespo responded, much to the surprise of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.

“He thought I was mad when I asked him to let me go back to Italy,” Crespo stated. “He offered to renew my contract, he asked me what I wanted. He didn’t know why I wanted to return.”

Crespo, whose international partnership with Gabriel Batistuta never hit the heights that it promised, gave some decent service to the Nerazzurri during his second spell at the club. He became a serial Scudetto winner with the Beneamata during the post-Calciopoli days before a brief stint at Genoa and then a January 2010 return to Parma – a place he describes as home.

“My objective is to lead Parma to the left-hand side of the table,” he said as the club feared relegation into Serie B. “That is where I found them when I first joined back in 1996 and that is where I want to leave them.”

Crespo wasn’t quite able to fulfil that target when on Thursday, with his side just two points shy of 10th place, he confirmed with tears in his eyes that he had rescinded his contract and ended his playing days at the highest level. After a career bursting at the seams with goals and commitment, it was only right that the gathered Press – just like the fans at the Tardini 15 years ago – gave him a deserved round of applause.

Have your say...
I'm a Romanista but one of my favourite Crespo goals was in a Rome derby, a high volley that he smashed in to the back of the net from the top of the box, running in full speed. It was sheer class, determination and power. A class act at every club. Magical goals in that fateful 05 CL final will always be in my memory. Forza Hernan!
on the 8th February, 2012 at 4:48am
Oh One of my all-time favourite footballer if he wasn't the most favourite one. I'm Laziale. I don't forget his goals with Lazio. I never forget how depressed I felt the day he transfered to Inter Milan. I couldn't sleep that night. I cheered for him wherever he went. One of the best finishers I've ever seen. Arrivederci Crespo indeed! :(
on the 6th February, 2012 at 3:34pm
Hernan was my dream come true when he played for Milan. He is so clinical that u think he is Filippo Inzaghi's twin and more technically gifted brother. Thanks Sig. Crespo for all you gave to Calcio.
on the 6th February, 2012 at 10:05am
Hernan Crespo will always be remembered as a Legend in Serie A, even after his brief spell in England, he returned home. He was one of the most elegant & lethal strikers of his generation. His strike rate both domestically and internationally speaks for itself.

Its sad a player of such quality didnt get to win much silverware, notably the 2002 WC & 2005 CL.

I salute & thank you Hernan Crespo, on the pitch you were a superstar & off it you were a gentleman, someone I admired when growing up.
on the 6th February, 2012 at 7:14am
Yet again this shows how unique Serie A is, surely it has possessed the best strikers ever seen than any other league. His partner wiv anova milan legend sheva was wot made milan tick in 04/05,true legend in calcio,jeez we cud have so many legends to pick from if we had 2make a dream team,especially in da forward department,weah, inzaghi,sheva,basten,rivera,nordahl,ronaldo,vieri,crespo,chiesa,del piero,boksic,trezeguet,gullit,signori,baggio ,montella,manchini,lombardo,platt,vialli,ravanelli....
on the 4th February, 2012 at 3:18pm
Remember his Parma days extremely well - the classic side which included, Buffon, Cannavaro, Thuram, Chisea, etc. The side was one of the best teams I saw during that time but for me it was Crespo who really made the difference in that team

Will be greatly missed from the game - he may not have performed well at Chelsea, or got the proper chance at Milan, but for me he is a true footballing legend in that he did what he did best - scoring goals
on the 4th February, 2012 at 11:39am
Simply an all-time legend of Serie A. And that says everything.
on the 4th February, 2012 at 9:52am
Massive shame to be losing a real Serie A foreign great! A striker that proved his class with all the clubs he played for, a typical target man who came to life anywhere inside the box, those 2 goals scored in the final (istanbul) will always be remembered, shame he never got a winners medal he deserved it! But on that Champions league run he scored some great goals most remembered against Man utd home and away! We say goodbye to a true passionate Serie A player! Arriverdeci Crespo!
on the 4th February, 2012 at 8:03am
Even as a Juventino it's sad to see such a great legend leaving the game. He did so much for Italian football. He will be missed, but will never be forgotten.

Wish you all the best Hernan!
on the 4th February, 2012 at 1:13am
Crespo a icon a serie a legend and a menace to some of the best defences in the history serie a. Yet i still feel he never gain the silverware to reflect his brilliance. It was almost like fate conspired against him climaxing in a somewhat bizarre night were milan threw away a 3-0 lead. As a national player i also felt he missed out on some major silverware with a supremely talented Argentina side missing out to the likes of brazil and italy. If only fate had only been kinder to him
on the 3rd February, 2012 at 11:16pm
As a milan fan i only really had one season with crespo but in that one season he shone as bright as any player at the club. In my eyes he is still a hero for what he was able to do for milan in the champions league final and will remain like ronaldo one of the greatest players denied the honour and prestige of this trophy.
on the 3rd February, 2012 at 11:05pm
Glad to see a tribute to a great player. One of my best goals from him was the header he scored against Man Utd in the 2004/05 Champions League game.

If only him and Batistuta could have gelled as a partnership.

Either way, his name has to be mentioned when drawing up a list of the best strikers of the naughties.
on the 3rd February, 2012 at 9:48pm
It was an absolute joy to watch Hernan play. His 2nd goal against Liverpool in the CL final was total class. What a loss to the game.
on the 3rd February, 2012 at 7:22pm
I remember this guy from when i was a kid watching Football Italia when James Richardson used to host it on Sunday mornings. Putting the nostalgia aside, Crespo was a good player but not great. Its always sad to see someone retire who you have grown up watching as it makes me feel old. The part that sticks out most to me was the Milan/Liverpool game. To this day that jammy win still haunts me, i can't imagine how Crespo and the other Milan players feel.
on the 3rd February, 2012 at 7:20pm
Sei stato unico sia fuori che dentro il campo. Ci mancherai :( in bocca al lupo. addio campione
on the 3rd February, 2012 at 7:19pm
What a great player, one of the best strikers of his generation. I have great respect for Crespo. His brace in that final is not forgotten, i will remember that 2 great goals forever altough we lost. Grande Crespo!

A Milanista
on the 3rd February, 2012 at 7:03pm
Crespo is simply awesome,although i am a Juve supporter i love him.he is a complete striker.
on the 3rd February, 2012 at 5:44pm
(And another Serie A giant from my youth retires... it doesn't half make a man feel old!)

Crespo was one of the very best finishers in the world, and always a true professional. Thanks for some great memories....
on the 3rd February, 2012 at 5:43pm
Seria A will be missing you, signore! :)
on the 3rd February, 2012 at 5:15pm
he's always been one of my favourite players. I am a Milanista and remember how I was disappointed that we did not keep him when we had the chance to. His passion for the game been evident. All the best in whatever you do next Hernan
on the 3rd February, 2012 at 2:28pm
great player... I don't know what went wrong with him after Parma & Lazio, why he wasn't really preferred by some of the coaches... nonetheless he was one of the best strikers of the game...
on the 3rd February, 2012 at 1:00pm
Even as a Juventino, Crespo was always one of my favourite players, his off the ball movement was sensational and I always secretly hoped that we would sign him as some point. I will always remember his hattrick against us in 1999, which promptly seen Lippi resign after the game. His second goal in the 2005 CL Final was just sheer genuis, such a shame he doesn't have a winner medal. A true Calcio legend.

Forza Hernan!
on the 3rd February, 2012 at 11:58am
What a footballer and a gentleman.

Certian other players could learn a lot from him.
on the 3rd February, 2012 at 11:53am
As a Roma fan, I must admit that I have hated and jeered Hernan Crespo on more than one occasion - however this says more about his skills as a player than anything else. He always wreaked havoc against us, and the dismay I've felt towards him was only a result of him playing against us - and him playing for Lazio :-)

Truth be told, he is/was a great player that deserves all the credit he has been given. Thanks for playing the game Hernan - Thanks for eveything!
on the 3rd February, 2012 at 11:11am
A sad day for football a wonderful player should have kept that massive hair tho that was class!
on the 3rd February, 2012 at 10:34am

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Your data may be made public and you accept our Privacy Policy. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.