Ex-Chelsea star Crespo looks completely unrecognisable after cutting long locks
The sight of his trademark hairband and shaggy, long locks used to strike fear into opposition defenders, for they knew Chelsea's Hernan Crespo would be soon be ready to ripple the back of the net with a rasping strike.
He proved popular with Chelsea fans during his five-year spell at the club, but the Blues supporters would do well to pick out their former striker these days after the Argentine underwent a drastic makeover at the local barbers.
Long retired from the game after hanging up his boots in 2012, Crespo opted for a fresh new look and requested a significant chop of his famous barnet. And on his 47th birthday, it is fair to say the former Lazio and AC Milan striker is looking sharper than ever. Sporting a neat, short style, Crespo’s fusion of brown and blonde streaky hair now looks a realistic grey as the father-of-three embarks on a new challenge.
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There was something special about the group of goal machines that emerged onto the scene in Argentina in the late 1990s towards the early 2000s — and the common denominator was their flowing hair and hairband combination. Gabriel Batitusta, known affectionately as ‘Batigol’, scored goals more often than he sipped on his cup of maté, the popular local herbal drink. Likewise, Claudio Caniggia became notorious for his bushy blonde hairstyle after a brief stint in Scotland with Dundee.
Whether Crespo set the trend or just followed the likes of Batistuta is unimportant. It reflects on a time in football that makes fans feel nostalgic, and the sight of Crespo coolly slotting past goalkeepers with aplomb is something that will never become tiresome. Sadly, that didn’t happen often enough during his short stint in England.
Back in the summer of 2003, Chelsea had been taken over by Roman Abramovich for £140m. And the Russian billionaire had promised to spend big in order to propel the Blues to the top of English football and later, help them conquer Europe. Given his stellar reputation as a goalscorer in Europe, it was no surprise to see Crespo become one of the first household names to join the revolution at Stamford Bridge.
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The Argentinian forward was signed for £16.8million from Inter Milan due to Claudio Ranieri’s admiration for his talents. And it didn’t take long for him to make his mark with 10 goals in 18 appearances in his debut campaign, although injuries certainly curtailed his progress. His loan spell at AC Milan in 2004-05 coincided with that famous night in Istanbul, in which Crespo chipped Jerzy Dudek to help Milan take a 3-0 lead before Liverpool’s incredible Champions League final comeback.
He revived his career after returning to link up with Jose Mourinho in 2005-06, scoring an injury-time winner against Wigan, as the Blues won back-to-back titles. He returned to Italy with Inter, Genoa and finished his career at Parma before moving into management.
Nowadays, after swapping the football pitch for the dugout, Crespo can be found working in the Middle East as head coach of Qatar Stars League outfit Al-Duhail after disappointing spells in charge of Banfield, Defensa y Justicia in his native Argentina and more recently, Sao Paulo. But his arrival in Qatar has coincided with five wins in his first six games, with the new season beginning in September, pointing at a bright future.
Crespo has designs on following in the footsteps of Marcelo Bielsa and managing in England one day, declaring his tenure in Argentina has made him ready for the challenge. “If you manage to survive Argentinian football, which is a big, beautiful madness, you are ready for anywhere in the world,” he told The Daily Mail back in 2020.
“I was very happy playing in England, going to training, very happy with the fans. That is why today as a manager I would like to be able to re-live that. I admire the Premier League and even the Championship, too.”
If Crespo does turn up back in the UK at some point in the future, there will be some fans scratching their head looking at his dramatic transformation. But if he is as good a coach as he was a striker, it won’t be long before the Argentinian becomes a familiar face in English football once again.
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