Agustin Delgado

Agustin Delgado is a former Ecuadorian centre forward who was born on 23rd December 1974. He began his career with Club Deportivo ESPOLI in the early 1990s. Delgado's goal's helped ESPOLI win promotion from Ecuador's Serie B in 1993. In 1994 he joined Barcelona Sporting club, the same year he also won his first full international cap. Delgado joined Club Deportivo El Nacional in 1995, and became one of the leading goal scorers in the country. He picked up a league title winners medal in 1996. On 4th October 1996 Delgado scored a brace against Jamaica to open his account for Ecuador. He returned to Barcelona in 1997 where he picked up another league championship.

In 1998 Delgado moved north to Mexico to join Cruz Azul. A year later he was on the move again, joining Necaxa. Delgado was a huge success in Mexico, netting goals like they were going out of fashion. He also played a massive role in helping Ecuador qualify for their first ever World Cup in 2002, with 9 goals. In November 2001 Delgado signed for Southampton for £3,500,000. The deal had been agreed whilst Stuart Gray was in charge at St Marys, but by the time the work permit had been processed he had been replaced by Gordon Strachan. Strachan had little say in the transfer as Chairman Rupert Lowe had already paid the agents fee. He had been spotted by scout Terry Cooper, who advised Gray to buy him. Shortly after the deal was announced, Saints played a montage of Delgado's best bits on the big screen before a match. He looked extremely impressive in those highlights, and it made fans eager to get a glimpse at their newest star. Unfortunately they would have to wait a long time. Delgado was ruled out almost instantly after being forced to undergo a knee operation. In truth Saints didn't do enough homework on the player. BBC's South American expert Tim Vickery said years later that Delgado had no business playing for a top level club at that point in time, because his knees were completely knackered. He finally made his debut as a substitute against Manchester United on 13th January 2002, but looked off the pace. He started an FA Cup tie at Rotherham three days later, but failed to make another appearance that season.

Delgado performed well at the 2002 World Cup for Ecuador, scoring in a 2-1 loss to Mexico on June 8th. He returned to Saints in July but the same problems still persisted. Gordon Strachan said Delgado was "every club's worst nightmare." Strachan explained in his autobiography that he was unable to coach him on his movement and other aspects of his game. Delgado had to be substituted at West Ham in December 2002, because he was unable to understand Strachan's instructions. He did occasionally show the odd moment of brilliance. He equalised against Liverpool in a 3-1 defeat at Anfield in the League Cup on 6th November 2002. On 23rd November he scored in an incredible 3-2 win over Arsenal at St Marys. He was a popular figure among fans, but soon disappeared from view again. Strachan said his inability to speak English didn't help. He also blamed his brother Marcos, who also acted as Delgado's agent. There was a conflict between club and country too. Saints allowed Delgado to join up with the Ecuador national squad for a World Cup qualifier with Uruguay on the proviso that he didn't take part in the match. He did play however, and as a result, further aggravated his injury. Strachan said he often missed training, or treatment sessions without informing anyone. When he did turn up he was unwilling to participate in rehab work set up by physio Jim Joyce. Delgado would point to his knee and say 'pain', and stopped exercising as soon as Joyce walked out the room. The situation got more bizarre as the months wore on. Delgado was used to being the centre in attention in Ecuador, and hilariously got upset when the squad failed to sing happy birthday to him. Things reached breaking point when Delgado turned up late for training with a trialist who had already been refused permission to train with the team. Strachan told him to march straight back to the dressing room. He finally left the club for good in 2004.

Delgado returned to Ecuador after leaving England, enjoying a short but successful spell with Aucas. He then moved to Pumas of Mexico, but struggled for form. He had no such problems on the International scene however. Delgado scored goals in the 2005 Copa America, and also helped Ecuador reach the 2006 World Cup finals. He joined Barcelona SC for a third spell in 2005, scoring 10 from 37 matches. Delgado netted twice for Ecuador at the 2006 World Cup before retiring from international football.

Not long after helping new club LDU Quito reach the quarter finals of the Copa Libertadores, Delgado was banned for six months after taking part in an on-pitch brawl, which saw four Barelona SC players injured. He returned for the club's victorious 2008 Copa Libertadores run. LDU Quito became the first ever Ecuadorian club to lift the trophy, although Delgado missed the final. He later had short spells at Emelec and Valle de Chota, before hanging up his boots in 2010.