Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Tino Was Hero to Me, Reveals Deng; NBA Star Reveals Admiration for Toon Legend

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Tino Was Hero to Me, Reveals Deng; NBA Star Reveals Admiration for Toon Legend

Article excerpt

Byline: MARK DOUGLAS

GREAT Britain superstar Luol Deng has revealed his unlikely sporting icon ahead of his return to Newcastle for Team GB's next Eurobasket qualifier - former Toon hero Faustino Asprilla.

Fresh from a matchwinning performance in GB's 91-82 defeat of Hungary last night, Deng will lead a home side loaded with talent at Northumbria University's new Sports Central Arena on Sunday. After scoring an impressive 32 points and pulling down nine rebounds in Szolnok, Britain will again look to the Chicago Bulls hero for leadership as they take on Macedonia.

And he can't wait to return to Newcastle - a city that captured his heart after the performances of Colombian livewire Asprilla.

"It's fantastic that the team is playing in Newcastle again - it's a great city with a lot of loyal basketball fans," he said.

"I've played there before three years ago and I loved the city. We had some good times around the place after the game.

"I know it well because some of my team-mates in the under-15s came from Newcastle and, of course, there is Drew (Sullivan, GB captain) who has a big connection with the place.

"I'm a big football fan too, so I know Newcastle, and the Toon Army. "I used to love Newcastle in the mid-90s for the football they were playing, especially when they had Tino Asprilla in the team.

"I loved watching Asprilla play and his celebration was the greatest - the back-flip and then the three-fist pump. I couldn't quite get the back flip down but I could do the fist pump!

"Newcastle played football the right way back then. I remember two of my favourite games that didn't involve my team Arsenal were those Liverpool matches they played.

"I think one was 4-3 and then they did it again the following season. I couldn't believe those games - I couldn't believe Newcastle managed to lose them."

If Deng has respect for Newcastle, the city will look forward to welcoming him.

Although not as well known in his home country as he is in America, he is one of the most successful British athletes of all-time. …

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