There are probably a few Premier League fans that have forgotten who Juan Pablo Angel is, but Aston Villa supporters, who chanted “...Juan Pablo Angel, there’s only Juan Pablo Angel...” for six years, definitely still love him.
This is the guy who once eluded William Gallas and John Terry to score an exceptional strike against Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea in the Carling Cup; the one who beat Jussi Jaaskelainen with a gem of a shot from an impossible angle against Bolton, after passing the ball through a defender’s legs using his back heel.
Well, this year Angel went back to his beloved Atletico Nacional of Medellin in his native Colombia at the age of 37 just to achieve a retirement dream.
On his return, the Colombian media and supporters of the Verdolaga gave a fantastic welcome, treating him like a returning war hero – Angel repaid that magical reception with goals and the league title.
In the late 1990s he remarkably was once top scorer in the Argentinean Clausura league with River Plate, before becoming Aston Villa’s most recent player, other than Christian Benteke, to score more than 20 goals in a single season.
Despite all these achievements, his ambition has obviously not dried up because this year he wrote his name once again in the Atletico Nacional’s story.
Angel gained fame after scoring the winning goal in the derby match against Independiente Medellin in 1994, a goal that helped secure his first title in a productive career.
Almost 20 years later, approaching retirement, he has won the league again and become the top scorer of the team to top it off.
Although he has been criticised from some sectors of the media and supporters due to his age, he has contributed enormously with the team not just on the pitch but also sharing his experience and advising his teammates behind the scenes.
He knows more than anyone that his retirement is closer than ever but has also expressed desire to continue, depending on his physical condition.
Thanks to the title, Nacional will be playing international competitions this year and the next one, starting next week in the first knockout stage at the Copa Bridgestone Sudamericana, before taking part in the 2014 Copa Libertadores.
Perhaps ‘JPA’ has one last motivation to stave off retirement.
Juan Pablo Angel career history:
Clubs: Atletico Nacional (Col), River Plate (Arg), Aston Villa (Eng), New York Red Bulls (Usa), Chivas Us (Usa).
Titles: Colombian League: 1994 and 2013, Argentinean first division: Clausura 1999 and Apertura 2000.
Individuals: Top Scorer in the Argentinean Apertura 2000, MVP MLS All-star game 2007 and MLS best eleven 2007
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