The deal that never was - former Newcastle United star Faustino Asprilla's failed move to Third Division Darlington

Cold hard cash and broken promises. Those two things stood in the way Hartlepool United's bitterest rivals Darlington pulling off what surely would have ranked as one of the most remarkable transfers in world football.

Tino Asprilla
Tino Asprilla

Colourful Colombian international and former Newcastle United and Parma forward Faustino Asprilla looked all set to sign for the fourth tier outfit in the summer of 2002.

But instead of penning a deal at the 25,000-seater George Reynolds Arena, having been unveiled to the fans, Asprilla slid away in the night, on to a plane headed for the Middle East.

It was the deal that never was.

And Asprilla has lifted the lid on just what happened that August, 14 years ago.

As was the case with many a deal at Darlo under millionaire chairman Reynolds at that time the agreement he reached with the safe-cracker turned fitted kitchen manufacturer turned Darlo benefactor was not the same as he was offered in person.

Asprilla, who was rumoured to have been offered £17,000 per week at the club, revealed: "People think I was never going to sign for Darlington, and that it was just a publicity stunt, but that was never the case.

"I had spoken to the chairman, Mr Reynolds, and I wanted to play for Darlington because I wanted to be based in Newcastle.

"I was settled in my life there, and I didn’t mind that it was a Third Division team and I would be playing at that level.

"But I was promised one contract over the phone, and then it was completely different when I actually sat down to start to talk about it.

"The reality was completely different, so it just didn’t happen."