From Colo the Clown to Captain Fabtastic – The fall and rise of Fabricio Coloccini

Colo the class act
At the end of the 2008/09 season, Newcastle United hit rock bottom! The club had suffered some gut wrenching defeats during its 16 seasons in the Premier League – in derbies, cup finals and title deciders – but none compared to the feeling of despair suffered on 24th May 2009.

Not a single player in the Newcastle squad came through that season with any credence, in fact it would be fair to say that the performance that season from supposed ‘stars’ was as disappointing as had been seen in the Premier League era – out with a whimper.

Many of United’s expensively assembled squad left for pastures new following defeat at Villa Park, and at the time, it was widely anticipated that a certain Argentinian duo would be among those to flee the nest. United had spent £10 million only nine short months prior on Fabricio Coloccini, a ball playing centre back tasked with replacing the solid if not spectacular Abdoulaye Faye, who departed the day after the Argentine put pen to paper.

While Colo started his Newcastle career with assurance, the turmoil surrounding the club soon affected his form, and given Newcastle’s recent record in the market for centre backs (Bramble, Boumsong to name but two), it didn’t take long for ‘Colo the Clown’s’ prospects to be all but extinguished amongst the United faithful.

Colo survived the clear out of deadwood during the close season. His less than convincing performances and the uncharacteristically generous contract offered to him by Mike Ashley would have made him a dead cert for removal from the wage bill, but he was retained, likely due to a lack of interest from potential suitors willing to pay a similar premium for his services following a difficult season in England. Whether through desire or necessity, the decision to play him alongside Steven Taylor in the opening weeks of the Championship season turned out to be a masterstroke!

After some solid performances in the opening five games of the 2009/10 campaign (including four wins and a draw – and four consecutive clean sheets), the game against Cardiff away was probably the defining moment in Coloccini’s Newcastle career. After 18 minutes, Colo nodded in from close range to put Newcastle one up, which ended up being the eventual winner after a stout defensive performance kept the score at 1-0, putting Newcastle top of the league after five consecutive wins (and clean sheets).

From then on, Colo has never looked back, improving month on month, putting in solid, consistent performances week in week out for three seasons.

Probably the most impressive accolade laudable to Coloccini is his incredible consistency. With the exception of his first season in black and white, Colo has been consistent throughout his entire career as an established centre back, both in terms of his performance and attendance on the pitch. He moved to Europe – AC Milan to be precise – from Boca Juniors at the age of 17, and remained with the club throughout his early development, making only one appearance for the Italians during a five-year spell. On the face of it, this statistic appears far from impressive even for a development player, however, he spent most of this stint on loan to other clubs, spending three of the five years in Spain making 92 appearances for Alaves, Atletico Madrid and Villareal respectively.

Following those three consecutive loan spells in Spain, Colo made the switch to La Liga with Deportivo La Coruna. It was at Depor where he demonstrated his remarkable consistency, making 105 appearances in three years, including every minute of every game in his final season with the club – impressive to say the least, especially considering Steve Taylor’s record! In his four years at Newcastle, Colo has played a minimum of 34 league games a season, and in the previous two Premier League campaigns he’s missed a total of just six games.

Appearances are one thing, but coupling this with quality performances is what makes our captain stand out from any other centre half we’ve had in the past 20 years. He is now recognised not only in the North-East but nationally as a consistently top performer, certified by his appearances in Team of the Season awards for the 09/10 Championship campaign, and last season in the Premier League.

Last week’s performance against Sunderland attracted national headlines, with Pardew likening his marshalling of the backline to Bobby Moore. Over the past four years Colo has quietly and consistently gone about his business, and it’s only when he’s out of the team that you see the true impact he makes on the game.

Let’s hope we see him don the black and white for another 4 seasons!

By Martin Gibson

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15 thoughts on “From Colo the Clown to Captain Fabtastic – The fall and rise of Fabricio Coloccini

  1. Best defender at the club and one of the best in Europe. The best defenders spend hardly any time on the ground, which is why I have always been a bit baffled at the way the likes of Vidic, Carragher etc were lauded in this country.


  2. Good read Martin, he has came a long way from we got him, I think he is one of the best CB’s we’ve had.
    We do play a lot better when he’s playing and I feel a lot calmer when he’s playing,but for me he still isn’t a top captain but is a top player. Although i’m not sure he’ll still be going in 4yr


  3. As ST said the other day, he’s got to be up there with our best ever defenders of the PL era, other than his first season he’s only really had a handful of poor performances, and it says something as they were the times we never really got going and got hammered…


  4. I believe that Colo is currently the best centre half in the league. I wouldn’t take any other above him.

    I really wouldn’t be surprised if Fergie came in for him at some point as they’re very short at the back and he’d be perfect for them. Would want more than £15m for him though!


  5. Nice write up Martin, I am a lot more comfortable with Collo in the team. Class act…. 🙂 I think he is a good Captain, very rarely loses his head and is a model pro. All the young players can all learn a thing or two from Collo 🙂 except Ranger, who hasn’t learnt a thing over the past couple of years 🙂 🙂


  6. i think colo is a real top player and is up lifting to the rest of the players but ime with big dave i wouldnt make him captain imo you need someone to kick ass on the pitch,i also agree with him that benny should be given a free roll behind the front two or one whichever way pardew sets the team up


  7. AMF you bought your lass any new flip-flops yet you tight git,have words with batty he will do some good deals for you 😀


  8. Ice, the kick arse captains are a thing of the past in pl mate.. to many different cultures on the park.. can you imagine a captain of ours giving Benny a mouthful? It would not end well.. You and Big Dave are wrong on this but it is bound to happen from time to time 🙂 🙂


  9. Dave – Captains don;t have to shout. I shared the same sentiments as you and thought he wasn’t vocal enough, but then you hear other players in the team saying he doesn’t shout but when he talks you listen, that was enough for me.

    Top player and top captain for me.


  10. Bare foot is the go for the missus mate, she says it hurts when she walks to the shop, I told her to toughen up a bit 🙂 🙂


  11. Toonsy do you think they’ll hear him in the heat of battle ? I have seen him allow his own head to drop when it’s not going well, so how does he tell the other players not to let there head drop ?
    I have served under many different leaders and being able to tell you off or tell you to sort your shit out is a must.


  12. Aussie the problem is your not a leader so it doesn’t work, your just a follower that accepts owt for a quiet life 😉 you would need to spend the rest of the year sorting your shit out boy 😀


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