With Colombia at the summit of Group A there’s one member of Los Cafeteros’ clan still soaring above the rest, Gustavo José Llanos Marino.
Gustavo is more commonly known on Colombian terraces as Cole, el cóndor de Los Andes.
Cole first pecked on the consciousness of football fans around the globe when he packed his bird suit and flew off to the 1990 World Cup in Italy.
Whilst suspended from the stands, Cole provided the wind beneath the wings of Carlos Valderrama and co as Colombia reached the knock-out stages.
Despite falling from his perch during a game in Italy, the Birdman of Colombia developed a taste in his beak for the big time.
Over two decades later the part-time hairdresser, part-time preacher is still flapping on the football team of his country.
“Let’s be honest, in terms of age I’m on the fifth floor, department eight, waiting to be moved upstairs. However, being part of game like our draw with Argentina gives me the strength to believe I can keep on spreading my wings.”
Colombia’s 0-0 draw with the hosts in Santa Fe puts Cole’s boys in pole position to win Group A (available at 1.33 with paf.com). Despite seeing Colombia wrack up four points in two games, Cole admits that all this time away from the nest is starting to catch up with him.
“After the draw in Santa Fe I felt all of my 58 years catching up with me. I felt like the kid from the barrio who steals a cell phone, gets caught and then gets a beating from the police.”
Cole is maintaining a bird’s eye view of Colombia during the 2011 Copa America but there have been times when he has felt the need to fly solo.
“When Colombia failed to make the 2002 World Cup I felt so empty that I just had to go to the Far East anyway. I think they we’re a bit freaked out when I arrived at customs in Japan and for a while it looked like they were going to send me home. Things got straightened out when I pulled out a Japanese magazine with a story in it about me. Then the customs guy then says, Cole San welcome to Japan!”
Cole was in attendance when Colombia last got their claws on the Copa America with a win on home soil. A decade later, el cóndor de Los Andes is dreaming about the cup coming home to roost again. Colombia going all the way is priced at 13.00 with paf.com.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for your free €15 credit to spend at paf.com
For more on Copa America 2011, listen to The South American Football Show.