On his 60th birthday, Maradona exclusively answered questions from Clarion. The coronavirus, the harsh reality of the country, its prediction in the Libertadores and Messi.
The boy who was born and raised in Villa Fiorito, the boy who spent the only pair of slippers he had in the pasture, the young man who began to dream of Cebollita, who studied at the prestigious Argentine school and who climbed a mountain Russian that I would never have imagined. The coach who will always be a footballer. The guy who would bum a muddy ball even if he’s wearing a new suit. The one with contradictions. The one about the perfect World Cup and the one about dopings. The one that viralized his life when that concept did not even exist. The one who was the main protagonist, like or dislike, of a constant reality show. The one who a couple of times hardly manages to dribble to death. The man in whom all these ingredients and many more coexist. Diego Armando Maradona turned 60 on October 30 and that day he gave this interview to Clarín:
-What was the best and worst thing that happened to you in your life? Do you regret something?
-I went and I am very happy. Soccer gave me everything I have, more than I ever imagined. And if I hadn’t had that addiction I could have played a lot more. But today that is past, I am fine and what I regret the most is not having my parents. I always make that wish, one more day with La Tota but I know that from heaven she is proud of me and that she was very happy.
-Raise the glass for your birthday and I made a wish for the Argentines.
-My wish is that this pandemic passes as soon as possible and that my Argentina can move forward. I want all Argentines to be well, we have a beautiful country and I trust that our President will be able to get us out of this moment. It makes me very sad when I see children who do not have enough to eat, I know what it feels like in the belly when you do not eat for several days and that cannot happen in my country. That is my wish, to see the Argentines happy, with work and eating every day.
These are times of strict protocols. And Diego, being a risk patient, adapts to the rules imposed by the pandemic. Isolated in his home in Brandsen and in his only report to an Argentine media, Maradona agreed to answer the questions that Clarín sent him through his press officer. Ten talks about football and life.
-The pandemic hit you closely: your brother-in-law died, your sister Lili was affected and you had to take care of yourself. Are you afraid of the coronavirus?
-This is the worst thing that could happen to us, I never saw anything like it. And Latin America is much more successful. Hopefully it will end soon, there are people who are not having a good time, many people who are unemployed, who find it difficult to have food. I trust (Vladimir, the president of Russia) Putin, I am sure that in a short time he will have a vaccine because this is no longer held.
-Do you feel how people’s faces change when they approach you?
-I am going to be eternally grateful to the people. Every day they surprise me, what I experienced in this return to Argentine football I will never forget. It exceeded what I could imagine. Because I was out for a long time and sometimes one wonders if people will still love me, if they will continue to feel the same … When I entered the field in Gimnasia on the day of the presentation I felt that love with people is never going to end.
-What does the Argentine athlete of any discipline have that does the impossible to defend the colors of blue and white?
-We leave the country very early, we live abroad for a long time and we miss a lot. That’s why when a national team calls you, you come even swimming. Because it means feeling in your country again, defending the flag and that makes us different.
-What excites you about Argentine sports?
-Everything, I look at everything, I follow any Argentine wherever he is. Wherever the Argentine flag is present I will always be encouraging. When I see the face of an Argentine athlete who wins, it thrills me. The other day I saw Peque (Diego Schwartzman) with Nadal in the Roland Garros championship and suffered more than him.
-How did you experience the Messi-Bartomeu-Barcelona case? In its place, would you have slammed the door anyway?
-I knew this was going to end badly and I thought Leo was leaving. It happened to me too. Barcelona is not an easy club and he has been there for many years and he was not treated as he deserved. He gave them everything, he took them to the top and one day he wanted to go out to change the air and they told him no. What happens is that slamming the door is not easy, there is a contract, a club.