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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

Hernan Crespo

Hernan Crespo was potentially one of the best centre forwards Lazio has ever had. Powerful, acrobatic, fast, he had a lot to offer but in my humble opinion came up short in his time at Lazio.


Born in Florida, Argentina on July 5, 1975, he started his career in the youth teams of River Plate. He turned professional with the Argentine team and played until 1996, winning two Apertura titles. He was nicknamed "valdanito" after legendary Argentine striker Jorge Valdano (for their similar looks and goal scoring abilities).


In the summer of 1996 he moved to Parma where he stayed for four years proving all of his potential. By 2000 he and Gabrel Batistuta were considered two of the best centre forwards in the world. The latter would go on to play the last couple of years of his career with the other team from Rome, whereas Sergio Cragnotti, following Lazio’s scudetto, would spend an enormous amount of money to get Crespo: €55 million (which included cash plus Matias Almeyda and Sergio Conceicao) which just for a few days was the record signing of all time in world football, that until Luis Figo joined Real Madrid.


His first official match was the Super Coppa Final against Inter. He did not score but the attacking duo Claudio Lopez-Crespo looked devastating and Lazio triumphed 4-3, winning the cup.


The first year was a good one, in the end. He did not perform well under Sven Goran Eriksson and an injury certainly did not help. Even while off form, he was still able to create goal scoring chances but missed most of them. When he was in form however, he was devastating. As soon as Dino Zoff started managing the team, Crespo started to score regularly and he was one of the main stars of the season. He will go on to win the Italian golden boot with 26 goals in 36 games.


As mentioned earlier, his second year was not so good, not only for him personally, but also for the team. Lazio struggled to find a decent game organisation and Crespo scored “only” 13 goals.


The return of Roberto Mancini, this time as manager, created lots of hopes in the Lazio fans for the 2002-03 season. But Sergio Cragnotti was having considerable financial difficulties and someone had to be sold. The first player everybody had their eyes on was obviously Alessandro Nesta. Cragnotti hoped that Milan, Inter and Juventus would fight to the end to get the greatest defender of all time and that consequently the price would be really high. Instead there was a secret pact between them to get the player for a much lower price than his real value. All three clubs waited until the very last moments of the transfer window to force Lazio to agree on a low price. Milan clinched the deal and Cragnotti was forced to accept just €31 million. At this point a second player had to go and that would be Hernan Crespo who was sold to Inter for €36 million to replace Ronaldo who had moved on to Real Madrid.


He made a good contribution to Inter, especially in Champions League, and Chelsea set his eyes on him. His move to the UK was not a positive one due to continuous injuries. In 2004 he moved to AC Milan on loan where he performed well and his legacy there could have been even better had Milan held on to the 3-0 lead, with two of his goals, against Liverpool in the Champions League final.


Back at Chelsea in 2005, he then returned to Inter for three years in 2006. His final years were with Genoa and Parma.


During his career he won a number of trophies; three scudettos with Inter, a premier league with Chelsea, two Apertura’s with River Plate, 5 Italian Supper Coppa's (two with Inter and one each with Lazio, Parma and Milan), a Charity Shield with Chelsea and a Copa Libertadores with River Plate.


He played 73 games for Lazio: 54 in Serie A (39 goals), 5 in Coppa Italia (4 goals), 13 in Champions League (5 goals) and one Supercoppa Final.


He was a very important player for the national team and played for Argentina in three World Cups: 1998, 2002 (scoring one goal against Sweden) and 2006 (three goals). He also played in the 2007 Copa America. He played a total of 64 games for his country and scored 34 goals. He also won a silver medal at the Atlanta Olympic Games of 1996.


Lazio Career

Season

Total games (goals)

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Champions League

Super Coppa

2000-01

40 (28)

32 (26)

1

6 (2)

1

2001-02

33 (20)

22 (13)

4 (4)

7 (3)

-

Totals

73 (48)

54 (39)

5 (4)

13 (5)

1

Sources


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