Soon-to-retire Juan Pablo Angel received a hero's farewell on Wednesday night as his Atletico Nacional side took on former club River Plate in the second-leg of the Copa Sudamericana final.
The soon-to-retire Juan Pablo Angel received a commemorative plaque and shirt from former club River Plate ahead of his Atletico Nacional side taking on the Argentine outfit in the second-leg of the Copa Sudamericana final.
Now 39, Angel announced this summer that he will bring down the curtain on his decorated career at the end of the 2014 Colombian season, which concludes in the coming week, having scored over 250 total goals across the past two decades.
It was a successful three-season stint at River which earned the striker a club-record £9.5 million move to Aston Villa in 2001, and fans of the Los Millonarios greeted him with a hero’s welcome on his return to the stadium where his goalscoring exploits helped them win the 1999 Apertura and 2000 Clausura championships.
There was no room for sentiment on the night, however, as Angel was an unused substituted as Nacional fell 2-0 to lose 3-1 on aggregate to the Argentine giants, who claimed their first continental title 1997.
"Of course I'm sad not to win but the cup could not be in better hands,” he told reporters at the final whistle.
“It makes me frustrated not having played both games but this was not a tribute to Juan Pablo. I respect what the manager decides. He has to disregard me and you in his plans. The priority is always collective.”
Angel could still be set for one final hurrah with his hometown club, however, with Nacional needing a win this weekend over Santa Fe, and results elsewhere to fall in their favour, in order to make the Liga Postobon final on December 17.
That would no doubt be a fitting note to go out on for the Villa legend, who got over a slow start with the Claret and Blues to notch up 62 goals in 205 appearances during his time in the West Midlands, before leaving in 2007 for the New York Red Bulls as a firm fan favourite.