Coloccini: I'm Newcastle's mane man now
Published 22:00 21/10/11 By Simon Bird
Fabricio Coloccini is close to signing a new four-year deal at Newcastle – and has ordered his team-mates not to cut off his trademark mop of curly hair in celebration.
The Argentine is finalising the details of a new contract to cap a fine start to his first season as Magpies captain.
As he prepared to face Wigan at St James’ Park, aiming to maintain Newcastle’s unbeaten start to the season, Coloccini reflected on his “rollercoaster” career on Tyneside.
It started with the shock of adapting English football and continued with relegation to the Championship - and an accompanying plunge in his confidence.
But that has been gradually rebuilt and Coloccini, signed for £12 million from Spain's Deportivo La Coruna, is now one the classiest defenders in the Premier League.
His play and his barnet have helped him become such a cult hero in the north-east, there's even a terrace song in which fans offer him sex with their wives.
“That is all good fun and makes me laugh," said Coloccini. "I will never cut off my hair.
"I had it short for a brief period in 2000, when I was with AC Milan. But I’m not going back to that, it was a one-off, a story that I hope won’t be repeated at Newcastle!
“When I was there, the older players would often say to me, ‘Come on! Cut your hair, cut your hair!’
“At one stage, Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Costacurta cut it for me - straight off with scissors.
"I don’t think any of my current team-mates would do the same to me now! I will remind them I am captain!
“A lot of South American players go for the long-hair look. It’s just the fashion in Buenos Aires.
"I know that in the past a lot of people in England had a haircut like mine! The Beatles, as well.”
Coloccini can now recount, from a position of strength, his difficult start with Newcastle, which included Kevin Keegan’s departure, the brief Joe Kinnear era, being dropped by Alan Shearer and relegation.
“When I came in the first year, times were tough, now it’s one of the best given the start we’ve had," he said.
“When I came here, I didn’t know what English football was like. Every player who comes to England maybe needs six months to a year to get to know the league. The first year, I had a few problems because Spanish football is so different.
“When we went down - a terrible experience - there were some offers to leave, but I wanted to help rebuild and the Championship was a good experience for me. I played, got confidence.”
Coloccini is now the leader of the pack and helping to ensure a focused dressing room spirit, with no egos.
He added: “There have been a lot of changes. The character is different.
"Last year maybe when we conceded the first goal it was difficult to respond. Now, if that happens we keep trying, keep that winning mentality, one which might have been missing last year.
“I think this season is like building a house. First you have to put the foundations in place.
"We have to first get to 43-44 points, and when we’ve done this, we can start thinking about other things. Hopefully with the good start the foundations are in place this season.”
Coloccini it settled in Newcastle with his wife and two young children and hopes to pen his new deal in the next couple of weeks.
Not surprisingly, Toon manager Alan Pardew, who surprised many by naming him captain after Kevin Nolan was sold to West Ham in the summer, has warm words for the Argentine.
“He’s a Rolls-Royce player - and a Rolls-Royce person too," said Pardew. “He’s a really nice fella.
"I’d seen him play internationally a few times and a few times for Newcastle before I came here, but you never appreciate what sort of player they are until you have spent three weeks with them on the training ground.
“I was pleasantly surprised at what a hard-working, disciplined footballer he was.
"This year he has been outstanding. I would definitely say he has been our best player up until this period.
"He’s probably unfortunate he isn’t getting selected for the national team.”