Mariano Soso: the crazy trip to see Diego Maradona in Cuba, and the dream of a reunion

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The coach of San Lorenzo moved heaven and earth before being able to see Diez in Cuba. Now she dreams of crossing it again this Wednesday.

October 7, 1993. The Colossus of the Park was the center of all Argentine and world football: Diego Armando Maradona returned to playing football in his country with the Newell’s jersey. A friendly with Emelec was the excuse. One of the many kids on the playing field to receive 10, who came in hand in hand with Dalma and Gianinna, was Mariano Soso. At the age of 12, he was finally able to have a close look at the player who gave him the first football image he had a notion of: the ’86 World Cup.

He was not alone. Some friends from the club, fascinated like him, followed Diego, following his every step. One of them was Sebastián Domínguez. They say that between the two of them they collected the pieces of grass that came off the plugs of Maradona’s left foot. Since that day, little Soso followed all the games of the Fiorito star in the Leprosy and further fueled his love from Maradona. And she set out to get to know him well one day …

Today, this 39-year-old from Rosario is the coach of San Lorenzo, a team that this Wednesday from 10 and with televising TNT Sports will play the first friendly after the extensive break against Maradona Gymnastics. It is not yet confirmed that Diego will be present at the New Gasometer. The intention in advance is that the DT del Lobo can be in front of the team in the preparation meetings although they also try to preserve it in the context of a pandemic.

Soso never quenched his fanaticism and admiration for Maradona. And he hopes he can cross it again with the illusion that Fluff remember him and the day they met in Cuba.

It was the Barça coach himself who, when he was in charge of Defense and Justice, made public the anecdote of everything that moved in a moment of his life to be able to face his idol.

It all goes back to the days when Diego was in Cuba recovering from his drug addiction. A trip by Berenice, Soso’s sister, who went to give a dance course for the Cuban state, was the best excuse. At that time, Mariano was Prof from Newell’s children’s divisions and decided to accompany Berenice and try to reach 10.

Once he set foot in Havana, Soso began his mission to find Diego. The first thing he did was go to La Pradera, the exclusive clinic all inclusive in which the world champion crack was interned. He began to consult the people of the place. He did not want them to discover his true intentions and so he was posing as a curious tourist. Until it was impossible for him to hide his desire to see Maradona and he bleached them. But he was no longer there.

There he had to recalculate. He found out that Diego played golf a lot in those days and found the field where the left-hander spent hours hitting the ball. And it was sent. He must have taken a couple of buses, since the place was far from the center of Havana.

He tried to explain to security that he was a Newell’s fan who wanted to meet Maradona, and that he had been part of the youth who received him when he made his debut with the Rosario club shirt. There was no case. And when it seemed that all was lost, three days later, the story reached Diego’s ears, who did not hesitate: he asked to be allowed to pass.

Soso and Maradona were chatting all afternoon. It was a day that he will keep in his memory forever. But if Diego’s gesture surprised him, it left him speechless even more what happened two years after that moment.

Newell’s invited Ten. back in Argentina, to a match with Gimnasia La Plata. Soso found out and managed to access the box where he was located thanks to a leader. She was able to greet him, but there was no possibility at that moment of anything else. Regardless, he did not move away and stayed close.

At halftime, Maradona walked up to him and greeted him in a much warmer and more effusive way. He remembered that afternoon in Cuba when a crazy fan leper he had come to visit him as he walked from hole to hole. And he even asked him how he was doing in his work in the club’s children’s football.

Whenever he can, the Rosario makes a reference to Maradona in his social networks, which he uses to communicate very specific issues. Soso breathes Maradona and if Diego is present this Wednesday at the San Lorenzo Sports City, a simple friendly will turn into one of the most unforgettable matches of his coaching career.



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