April 10th 2004

THE NUMBER 10, A TRIP TO ARGENTINA WITH PURE FOOTBALL

  MARINA ZUCCHI (reporter of Clarํn)    E-mail: giornalista@ubbi.com

The arrival of Diego in Buenos Aires did not only nourish the local press, that used their flashes like they had never done before, but also the same “number 10” who found a real support for his heart that he can not find anywhere else in the world. Not even in Cuba.

The thing is that Pelusa went back to the Bombonera after more than one year and a half and the “12” (the fans of Boca Juniors) reminded him of their endless grantfulness dedicating euphoric songs to him. And there is no doubt that for the heart of Maradona there is no happier music than the one that comes out from the mouth and the claps of "his" people.

With is typical shorts, his fashionable shoes and his arms covered with tattoos, he came out of the plane happy and looking forward to meeting his parents, his daughters and a country that he left looking for peace quite a few years ago.

Prepare the 15th birthday of his younger daughter? Say to the Argentineans what happens to his economic situation? Talk to his former manager Guillermo Coppola? The reasons for his trip to Argentina are not clear, but one thing is sure, is that he fully enjoyed his visit, because he tasted again one of the things he likes most: football.

That is why he supported Boca Juniors from his private loge and he also found some time to visit the stadium of his great rivals (River Plate) to watch Argentina playing against Ecuador, in the World Cup qualifiers.

And one Sunday, when a historical heatwave was recorded in Buenos Aires (because it is now autumn in Argentina), Diego challenged the almost 40 degrees of the Bombonera and came again out on his own balcony.

In the meanwhile, in the stadium of Argentinos Juniors, his first team, people waited for him in vain. Staff members, players, fans, hoped to see him to watch the match against Godoy Cruz (in the Argentina second division). However, his father was at the stadium and received all the ovation.

The full schedule of the number 10 also included some appearances on the TV channels, words of encouragement for the father of a young boy killed in Buenos Aires and whose story moved the hearts of people in Argentina, and also some time to juggle with the ball.

Yes, he played for 80 minutos in a match during the training session of Estudiantes de La Plata, the team now led by his old friend Carlos Bilardo. This way, with "rabonas", backheels, and a goal on a penalty kick, he became the star of the match.

His teammates were the staff members of Estudiantes, and the opponents a group of reporters. The final result was 7-1, but this is just a detail in the happy afternoon. The thing that really matters is what the same “10” confirmed: the ball is still his favourite toy, the one that gives him the best smiles.