Hernán Jorge Crespo (Spanish pronunciation: [eɾˈnaŋ ˈxoɾxe ˈkɾespo]; born 5 July 1975) is an Argentine professional football coach and former player who is the manager of Argentine Primera División club Banfield. A prolific striker, he has scored over 300 goals in a career spanning 19 years. At international level, Crespo scored 35 goals and is Argentina's fourth highest goalscorer behind only Sergio Agüero, Gabriel Batistuta and Lionel Messi. He played in three FIFA World Cups: 1998, 2002, 2006. At club level, Crespo was the world's most expensive player, when he was bought by Lazio from Parma in 2000 for €56 million (£35.5 million). He was top scorer in the 2000–01 Serie A with 26 goals, playing for Lazio.
Crespo in 2018
|Full name||Hernán Jorge Crespo|
|Date of birth||5 July 1975|
|Place of birth||Florida Este, Argentina|
|Height||1.84 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|2004–2005||→ A.C. Milan (loan)||28||(11)|
|2006–2008||→ Inter Milan (loan)||49||(18)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Crespo's awards include three Serie A scudetti, a Copa Libertadores, a Premier League title and an Olympic Games silver medal. In 2004, he was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players. Crespo never received a red card during his career.
Crespo made his debut with River Plate during the 1993–94 season, scoring 13 goals in 25 league appearances as River Plate won the Apertura league title. In 1996, he helped River win the Copa Libertadores, scoring twice in the home leg of the final in Buenos Aires.
Crespo left River Plate for Parma on 14 August 1996 after he won the silver medal with Argentina at the 1996 Summer Olympics and finished as the top scorer with six goals. He failed to score in his first six months at the club and was routinely booed, with head coach Carlo Ancelotti coming in for much criticism for keeping faith with the selection of Crespo. His faith, however, vindicated – Crespo went on to score 12 times in 27 matches in his first Serie A season and Parma finished runners-up to Juventus. The turning point was the standing applause he received for his brace against Cagliari in March 1997. Parma won the 1998–99 Coppa Italia and he scored the opening goal in Parma's 3–0 UEFA Cup final victory over Marseille. He had scored 80 goals in four seasons.
In 2000, Lazio broke the then-world transfer record by paying £35 million (they paid £16 million in cash and transferred Matías Almeyda and Sérgio Conceição) to acquire Crespo, who in turn finished as Serie A's top scorer with 26 goals. Lazio, however, failed to defend its league title in 2001, and the following season, Crespo suffered from some injuries, while new signings Jaap Stam and Gaizka Mendieta failed to live up their reputations, following the departures of playmakers Juan Sebastián Verón and Pavel Nedvěd. Crespo was left without the attacking support he had enjoyed in 2001, but still scored a respectable haul of goals. Lazio's financial problems, however, forced the club to sell several players, and following Alessandro Nesta's transfer to A.C. Milan, speculation over Crespo's future intensified.
On 31 August 2002, Crespo, expected to shine again after suffering from injuries, signed with Inter Milan as a replacement for the departed Ronaldo for a €26 million fee and Bernardo Corradi. Lazio later re-valued Corradi to €5.5 million. Inter was short of strikers after the highly rated Mohamed Kallon was injured in August, and only Álvaro Recoba and Christian Vieri, together with reserves Bernardo Corradi and Nicola Ventola, were available.
Crespo scored seven goals in three appearances, along with nine goals in 12 Champions League matches, until he was sidelined for four months by injury in early 2003.
Crespo was transferred to Premier League club Chelsea on 26 August 2003 for a fee of reported £16.8 million which also created a controversy in alleged false accounting.[note 1] Following the transfer, Christian Vieri, Crespo's former strike partner at Inter, claimed that the club are essentially "weakening" by selling players of such caliber. He made his league debut on 30 August 2003 as a substitute for Adrian Mutu in a 2–2 home draw against Blackburn Rovers. On 16 September 2003, Crespo made his European debut, replacing Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in the 2003–04 Champions League group stage, which ended in a 1–0 away win after a late goal from William Gallas against Sparta Prague. Four days later, he scored his first goals, a double, in a 5–0 away victory against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Crespo made 31 appearances (including 19 in the league) in all competitions, scoring 12 goals.
A.C. Milan (loan)Edit
After José Mourinho took over as Chelsea manager for the 2004–05 season, Crespo became surplus to Chelsea's plans following the arrival of Didier Drogba and was loaned to A.C. Milan, as requested by then-manager Carlo Ancelotti. He scored a total of ten league goals, and scored twice in the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final in a defeat to Liverpool.
In scoring a Champions League goal with Milan, Crespo became the first player to score with five teams in the competition, doing so with each of the sides he had played for since moving from South America to Europe in 1996.
Return to ChelseaEdit
After Chelsea's failed attempts to land a big-name striker during the summer of 2005, Mourinho needed competition for striker Didier Drogba and decided to recall Crespo from A.C. Milan, convincing him that he had a future in England. Crespo made his first return appearance in a 2–1 FA Community Shield win over Arsenal. He scored his first league goal of 2005 against newly promoted Wigan Athletic in the 93rd minute of Chelsea's season opener in a 1–0 win, with a left foot curler into the top corner from 25 yards. The 2005–06 league title was Crespo's first league title victory in European football.
Return to Inter MilanEdit
Second spell; loan from 2006 to 2008Edit
Though he scored 13 goals in all competitions and won the 2005–06 Premier League, Crespo requested a return to Italy in order to rejoin A.C. Milan, but Chelsea refused and announced that Crespo would remain a Chelsea player until the club accepted a suitable offer for him. On 7 August 2006, Crespo joined Inter on a two-year loan. He scored his 125th Serie A goal against Siena on 2 December 2006, and his 200th career goal in Europe on 2 April 2007. On 13 May, Crespo scored a hat-trick to help Inter defeat Lazio 4–3 and win the Scudetto.
Third spell; permanent dealEdit
Crespo was released from Chelsea on 3 July 2008, following the expiration of his contract, and was signed by Inter on a one-year contract for free. In the 2008–09 season, under José Mourinho, his former manager in Chelsea, Crespo only made 13 Serie A appearances, including two starts. He was excluded from the Champions League squad.
Following the expiration of his contract at Inter, Crespo was quickly snapped up by Genoa, taking Diego Milito's place, who moved in the opposite direction. On 8 June 2009, it was reported that Crespo had a medical check to formalize his transfer. Crespo cited his ambition to make the Argentina 2010 World Cup squad as one of his key reasons for making the move to Genoa. On 13 September, Crespo scored his first goal of the 2009 season against Napoli.
Return to Parma and retirementEdit
In January 2010, Crespo returned to Parma after the club agreed the deal with Atalanta and Genoa. Crespo replaced Nicola Amoruso who left for Atalanta, while Atalanta's Robert Acquafresca moved to Genoa to replace Crespo. The Argentine striker returned after ten years to Parma. Crespo scored just once before the season's end, against Livorno. The striker enjoyed a more successful 2010–11 season, scoring 11 goals. In doing so, he became Parma's top scorer for a fourth time, which remains a post-war club record. Despite mounting speculation of his departure, Crespo signed a one-year contract extension on 30 June 2011. However, a lack of first-team opportunities saw Crespo and Parma mutually agree to terminate his contract on 2 February 2012, although he did vow to return to the city he had fallen in love with. He is the club's all-time record goalscorer with 94 goals in 201 appearances.
Although Crespo was signed to play in Bengal Premier League Soccer in late January 2012, with a salary of £533,000 for the two-month tournament, the competition never got underway. He clarified that his career as a footballer had finished in November 2012.
Crespo won his first cap for Argentina in a friendly match against Bulgaria in February 1995. He was a member of the Argentina side that finished runners-up in the 1995 King Fahd Cup, the predecessor to the FIFA Confederations Cup.
In 1996, Crespo was a member of the Argentina men's football squad for the Olympic Games. Crespo helped take Argentina to the final with braces against Spain in the quarter-final and Portugal in the semi-final. However, Argentina lost the final to Nigeria, despite Crespo scoring his sixth goal of the tournament from the penalty spot.
Crespo scored his first goal for the Argentina senior team in a 1998 World Cup qualifier against Ecuador and hit a hat-trick against FR Yugoslavia in a pre-World Cup friendly. Crespo was called up to the final roster for the 1998 World Cup but only made one substitute appearance, as Gabriel Batistuta led the Argentine attack. Crespo missed his kick in the second round penalty shoot-out with England, but Argentina progressed 4–3.
During qualification for the 2002 World Cup, Crespo was top scorer for Argentina with nine goals as they topped the South American group. During the finals, Batistuta was again preferred to Crespo as Argentina's starting centre forward. Crespo appeared as a substitute in all three group matches, including the final match against Sweden, which Argentina needed to win in order to qualify for the second round. Though Crespo scored an 88th-minute equaliser, it was not to be enough and Argentina were eliminated.
After the 2002 World Cup, Batistuta retired from international football, and Crespo took over as Argentina's number 9. During the 2006 World Cup qualifying stage, Crespo scored seven times, including two goals in Argentina's 3–1 World Cup qualifying win over arch-rivals Brazil in Buenos Aires, which made him Argentina's career scoring leader in World Cup qualifiers.
Crespo scored Argentina's first goal of the 2006 World Cup in their opening match against the Ivory Coast. He also scored in the second group game against Serbia and Montenegro and the second round match against Mexico. However, Argentina's run was ended as they were knocked out by host nation Germany on penalties in the quarter-final.
Crespo's final appearances for Argentina came at 2007 Copa América. He scored twice in Argentina's 4–1 victory over the United States in their Group C opener, tying Diego Maradona's team scoring record. He then overtook Maradona in Argentina's second match, scoring a penalty kick against Colombia. However, he substituted immediately after converting the kick due to injury and missed the remainder of the tournament.
After the Copa América, Crespo did not receive any further call-ups to the national team and ended his international career with 35 goals in 64 matches, making him Argentina's third highest goalscorer of all-time, behind Gabriel Batistuta and Lionel Messi.
Style of playEdit
Crespo was a fast, tenacious, powerful, and complete striker, who possessed good technique, composure in possession, and an eye for goal; he also excelled in the air. A prolific and opportunistic goal-scorer, he was capable of finishing well both with his feet and with his head, and was known for his ability to score acrobatic goals. He was also effective off the ball due to his work-rate, tactical intelligence, and attacking movement, which he often used to provide depth for his team or create space for his teammates; he was also capable of linking up well with other forwards. Due to his goalscoring ability and wide range of skills, he is regarded as one of the best strikers of his generation, and as one of Serie A's best ever foreign players. Despite his ability, he faced several injuries throughout his career, which limited his playing time at times.
While commonly known as Hernán, Crespo was christened Hernando Jorge Crespo, after his grandfather of the same name. His most common nickname is "Valdanito", after legendary compatriot striker Jorge Valdano, as he was thought to be his heir due to their similar appearance and eye for goal. He is also called, although less often, "El Polaco" (or "The Pole") because his grandmother was Polish.
Crespo was sponsored by sportswear company Nike and appeared in Nike commercials. In a global Nike advertising campaign in the run-up to the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan, Crespo starred in a "Secret Tournament" commercial (branded "Scorpion KO") directed by Terry Gilliam, appearing alongside footballers such as Thierry Henry, Ronaldo, Francesco Totti, Ronaldinho, Luís Figo, Roberto Carlos and Hidetoshi Nakata, with former player Eric Cantona as the tournament "referee".
Post-playing and managerial careerEdit
Coach: Parma and ModenaEdit
On 12 November 2012, Crespo announced that he would pursue a career in coaching and would begin work in early July 2013.
He served as youth coach for the Primavera team of Parma during the 2014–15 season. After the disbandment of Parma, on 30 June 2015, Crespo was announced as the new manager of Serie B club Modena. He was sacked on 26 March 2016.
Back to ParmaEdit
On 22 June 2017, Chinese businessman Jiang Lizhang bought 60% of the stocks of Parma, and assigned Crespo as the new vice president of the club. He worked for Jiang's company Desport as a technical adviser beforehand.
On 2 January 2018, with the club opting to remove the figure of vice-president from its board, Crespo was named new club ambassador.
|River Plate||1993–94||Primera División||25||16||—||—||3||0||—||28||16|
|Inter Milan||2002–03||Serie A||18||7||0||0||—||12||9||—||30||16|
|Milan (loan)||2004–05||Serie A||28||11||1||1||—||10||6||1[d]||0||40||18|
|Inter Milan (loan)||2006–07||Serie A||29||14||4||4||—||6||1||1[e]||1||40||20|
- One appearance in 1999–2000 Serie A play-off for 2000–01 UEFA Champions League, one appearance and one goal in 1999 Supercoppa Italiana
- One appearance in 2000 Supercoppa Italiana
- One appearance in 2005 FA Community Shield
- One appearance in 2004 Supercoppa Italiana
- One appearance and one goal in 2006 Supercoppa Italiana
|Argentina national team|
|Indicates goal was scored from a penalty kick|
- Supercoppa Italiana: 2000
- Supercoppa Italiana: 2004
- Argentine Primera División top scorer: 1993–94
- Football at the Summer Olympics top scorer: 1996 (shared)
- UEFA Cup man of the match: 1999
- Coppa Italia top scorer: 1998–99, 2006–07 (shared)
- Serie A top scorer: 2000–01
- ESM Team of the Year: 2000–01
- FIFA 100
- FIFA World Cup Silver Shoe: 2006
- FIFA World Cup All-star team: 2006
- FIFPro World XI nominee: 2005, 2006
- Inter bought Crespo for €38 million accounting value; however, the club split the amount in February 2003 into reported €4.45 million (which would amortize normally according to the length of player contract: i.e. proportionality, zero which his contract expires), and €33.55 million in special amortization fund in 10-year equal installment (which, although most of the players would leave the club within 10 years, the fund still appeared as an asset in balance sheet). Inter sold Crespo for an undisclosed fee, which created a huge profit if considering Crespo's value of below €4.45 million (the value weathered after his contract had excised for one year), but if considering Crespo left the club but still "worth" €30.195 million residual asset "value" in the special fund, the deal would create a huge loss. The auditor also wrote in a 2003–04 financial report that if the departure of Crespo combined with removing the value in the special fund would create a loss of ca. €18.8 million ("qualora detta plusvalenza fosse state imputata a riduzione della voce "Oneri pluriennali da svalutazione diritti: sarebbe scaturita una maggior perdita di ca. €18.8 millioni")
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