Rocky Balboa convinced Di Maria to continue fighting in the national teamMarch 17, 2019
repeat a phrase these days. "Following when you think you can not do more is what makes you different from others," he says. He does not pronounce it arrogantly, he describes his state of mind. The rebellion and the commitment with which he will return to the world of
. He borrowed it from Rocky Balboa, who in the first chapter of the pugilistic saga, then adds: "Life is not about the strength of your blows, but the strength of your character." Di Maria is back, at 31 years old. And he's willing to fight for a place he feels he never abandoned. Against suspicion, against murmurs. The same wants to be.
It's the last hours in Paris before resuming a gymnastics he knows by heart: joining the national team. But this time it will be different, it was never that far away. Discarding it to Lionel Messi, always in another dimension, Di Maria seems the only surviving historical. This Sunday he will play the French classic in the Parc des Princes, in front of Marseille, and then he will travel to Madrid to plunge into the albiceleste intimacy, at the Eurostars Madrid Towers hotel, the bunker chosen by the AFA for the next eight days. "I am very happy, happy to be called again, knowing that it is the last call before the Copa América, it is obvious that I have to win a place, it is obvious that I have to show that I want to be present in the Copa America. It's all up to me to show the new coaching staff that I can help, they're doing a great job, they're trying to give this team an identity, "he tells
THE NATION from your house in the Passy neighborhood, with the Bois de Boulogne a few blocks away.
Do not be deceived or doubt. He is driven by an obsession: "I want to be because I want to win something with the national team, yes, my goal is to be in the Copa América and finish winning a title with the national team." Lionel Scaloni always wanted him in his squad, you just had to wait. Every time they talked on the phone, the coach warned the spirit of revenge that grew in Di Maria. When in the last weeks 'Luifa', the teacher Luis Martín, began to call him frequently, the forward understood that the call was gaining strength. "I'm going to have to win a place, I was not in the last calls and the guys who were, they did very well," he confides.
The selection is in a process of renewal. Among world champions of little distance, Dybala, Lo Celso or Tagliafico, some surnames that Di María already knows, such as Lautaro Martínez, Pezzella or Lanzini, and others with whom he will cross for the first time in Madrid: from Foyth, to Musso and Zaracho. Di Maria knows it. Another generational age was born, and he will seek to add. He is convinced that it can be useful. Last year, in an interview with
THE NATIONHe spied on the future and said: "It will be difficult for important players to be there for so long, 8, 9 or 10 years, in the elite of football, hopefully it will be repeated, but it will not be easy, but on the other hand. if they miss us, it will be because the new generation will be doing badly, and I do not want that to happen, so hopefully they will not miss us and the generation that succeeds us will be successful, achieve important things and bring many joys to the people, because that's what it's about. " Feel that it was time to collaborate in the transition. And if a thorn is pulled out on the road, much better.
"I want to be because I want to win something with the national team, yes, my goal is to be in the Copa América and finish winning a title with the national team."
Di María appeared in the South American Sub 20 of Paraguay, in 2007, by the hand of Hugo Tocalli. Many years have passed, but some jewels still shine from the fascinating factory of Pekerman and associates. The progression of 'Angelito' turned out to be fabulous, because it started with Tocalli but later it continued with Sergio Batista, it jumped into the national team with Alfio Basile, it was affirmed with Diego Maradona, it became one of the 'Fantastic Four' with Sabella, Martino he came to consider him one of the five best footballers on the planet, he was the only one with perfect assistance in the fleeting Bauza cycle and a weakness for Sampaoli. Since it debuted in 2008, everyone took them into account. No one underestimated his electric power of adaptation to what the moment asked, the team and his teammates. He played with everyone and also with Lionel Scaloni, who always had him on his radar. We just had to wait for the moment. And it arrived.
Time has passed and all the coaches agreed on the same point: Di Maria is the one who best associates with Messi, the one who best reads his plays, the one who has the most pass and download options, playing as a winger or as an inside player. They shared some good ones, like the gold medal in the Beijing Olympics, and all the bad ones. All. From the three lost finals – traumatic, especially for Di Maria because he was beaten in 2015 and 2016, and did not play directly due to injury in Brazil 2014 -, until the eliminations in Germany 2010, Argentina 2011 and Russia 2018.
If you participate in the two friendlies, against Venezuela and Morocco, you will be one step away from the distinguished 'Club of 100', that exclusive albiceleste plot that only Mascherano, Messi, Zanetti, Ayala and Simeone inhabit. Di Maria has 97 games and always knew that the last one could not be that of June 30 last year, in Kazan, when France fired Argentina from the World Cup in Russia. Then Mascherano and Biglia said goodbye, but he did not. He never played again, like Lionel Messi. He was not in the friendlies during Scaloni's interim either. They return coincidentally. Together with Messi, the most fascinating player with whom he shared a team. "The 'Dwarf' is already the best in history," says Di Maria, who always surrounded himself well, from Cristiano Ronaldo to Neymar, including Rooney, Ibrahimovic and Mbappé. In addition to Kaká, Cavani, Xabi Alonso, Falcao, Gareth Bale, Van Persie, Benzema, Özil, Iker Casillas, De Gea, Sergio Ramos, Buffon and Dani Alves, among many.
He lacked playing with one …, with Ronaldo, the Brazilian. His favorite on the Play when he was a kid. Ronaldo left Real Madrid in 2007, and Di María arrived in 2010. "I'm not a star, I run so that the star looks," he clarifies. The season at PSG will be crowned with more national titles. The League and the cups, those that seem insufficient while it continues delaying the devilish Champions League, a torment for Paris. But the Di Maria station is as intense as it is productive, and it has 14 goals and 13 assists in 38 games. In individual numbers, just the previous one, 2017/18 was better among the 13 that it has in Europe. And there are several weeks left until the end, so the harvest will grow.
It hurt him not to be in the national team. Strange, who wants to be in a place where abuse becomes frequent? There are reasons of the heart that neither reason understands. "Criticism is perfect, but when it happens it is very painful, teasing hurts …" he warns. Many hours of therapy were very useful. "It's always nice to wear this shirt, whatever you say, criticize me or whatever, I know that whenever I dressed it I gave everything and much more, with mistakes, with good and bad times, but I always left everything in the And I want to do it again in these two friendlies, and if I have to go to the Cup, I'll leave everything and give everything for this shirt, "he says. "If Leo insists, tries, does not collapse, we must do it," he adds. At least, he feels that way.
The WhatsApp message is from July 2, 2018.
"Although there was no one left, I wanted to stay until the end, so I'm just leaving today", it reads. It had been more than two days since the elimination with France, and Di Maria was the last player to leave the Argentine concentration in Bronnitsy.
I will never say no to the national team, if they call me I will be, the national team is never told no, I will work to be in the Copa America of the year comes", he completed. His plan was already underway. "To follow when you think you can not do more is what makes you different from others …"
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