Ex-Colombia ace Asprilla says he persuaded hitman not to kill Paraguay goalkeeping legend Chilavert
Former Colombia forward Faustino Asprilla says he had to persuade a hitman not to kill legendary Paraguay shot-stopper Jose Luis Chilavert after a World Cup qualifier in 1997.
Asprilla and Chilavert were both sent off after clashing during a South American qualifier in Asuncion, which Paraguay won 2-1.
Speaking on Colombian TV channel TelePacifico this week, former Newcastle ace Asprilla sensationally claimed that a hitman had called him at the team hotel afterwards to ask permission to bump off the Paraguayan stopper.
“What? Are you crazy?” was Asprilla’s response, he told the channel. “You’ll destroy Colombian football, you can’t do that. No, no, no, no. What happens on the pitch stays on the pitch.”
Colombian football had seen the assassination in 1994 of national team defender Andres Escobar, in apparent response to an own goal he scored which helped knock the country out of the World Cup just days earlier.
Asprilla – fondly known as Tino by fans – recently turned 50, and was known as one of the game’s most colorful characters during the ‘90s.
He left Atletico Nacional in his homeland before signing for Parma in Italy and then English Premier League side Newcastle, famously scoring a Champions League hat-trick against Barcelona in 1997.
He retired in 2004, having made 57 appearances for his country, scoring 20 times.
The supposed assassination target Chilavert, now 54, was no less charismatic a character in a playing career which spanned more than two decades. He had club spells in South America as well as Europe, playing 74 times for Paraguay.
A free-kick and penalty specialist, he incredibly scored 62 goals during his career, including eight times for his country – a record for an international ‘keeper.