They love each other, they admire each other. Perhaps grammatical precedence: they loved each other, they admired each other. Diego Maradona had affection for Marcelo Gallardo, he respected him, he admired him. Gallardo had a tremendous affection for the eternal number 10. As rarely in life, Diego was always comfortable, wrapped up in the doll, another 10, well earthy, out of the way, despite River and Boca’s animosity. They shared the same sweater years apart. Diego gave him advice, called him on his personal phone when Gallardo lost his tune in the national team.
That affection was represented by a hug from the soul. Another in our existential dread: from that iconic picture of the 1978 World Cup to this one, when pain rules everything. River’s coach, like so many other glories in our football history, was part of Pelusa’s final goodbye. He saw Claudia Villafañe, his first wife, his life partner and nothing else was needed: he gave her a touching hugthat surpasses t-shirts, that surpasses time. The love for friendship and football, summed up in a postcard.
The River coach changed the picture of his WhatsApp profile: he posted the image of his hug with Maradona when River and Gimnasia faced each other for the final Super League, on September 28 of last year, in the millionaire win 2 to 0. That late, they joked, laughed, they repeated all the gestures of mutual admiration.
For final practice, Marcelo Gallardo gathered his players to commemorate Maradona on “this sad day for Argentine football,” as defined by the millionaire entity’s official social network. In reality, the Doll shared anecdotes and lessons from the top 10 of all time. Especially with foreigners and with young people, who didn’t see him play and take the real dimension of his football legacy.
“Wake up to something incredible, it never ceases to amaze. He is a world icon, he has marked an era in our sport. All of us who have ever loved football identify with what it has brought us as a footballer. I will see him again and give him a hug. I hope he is healthy and can give the best to his players and to the gymnastics ”, said the doll before that other special hug.
An internal tribute
Before practice, Marcelo Gallardo gathered his players to remember Diego Armando Maradona on this sad day for Argentine football.
& – River Plate (@RiverPlate)
November 25, 2020
In addition, Gallardo remembered an unforgettable episode that he lived with Diego afterwards missing a penalty with the team’s shirt, in 1995, during a friendly match that the team led by Daniel Passarella defeated Australia 2-0, at the Quilmes court. “Diego has these things, he is always waiting. It was a long time ago, I was 19 years old, I played for the national team and it was said that he could be his successor. It was a very difficult stage because it was in was the post-Maradona era. It didn’t affect me because I played naturally, like I was doing it in the field nearby. Until one day I missed a penalty and felt that naturalness I had was turned into something heavier, just like people’s disapproval, ”said the doll.
The other touching hug
Immediately a smile escaped him. So at that point Diego called me to encourage me and told me to move on, who had a lot of faith in me. It was a surprising thing, he didn’t have to do it … He doesn’t remember that; or maybe because he has a lot of memory. And I always remembered that attitude he had towards me, ”he explained. Of course: Diego always remembered, because such gestures were common for him, beyond the torments of his life, especially in the last long years.
Maradona was always critical of River coaches with a certain history, like Ramón Díaz. He admired Enzo Francescoli, one of the greatest in millionaire history. But with the doll he had a special affection from childhood. I knew he interpreted the same when he saw the game. “He’s a great coach, he lives for this and directs how he played. He’s like me, he thinks about the attacking games, with intensity, like we played on the field. He deserves everything that happened to him in River, but enough old man, you’re here, won’t you leave anything for others? Maradona wondered and laughed. That said from time to time, ‘Few teams out there make a difference like River did with us. “
Gallardo remembered part of that story in Casa Rosada this morning. And Claudia, who knew everything about Diego, needed that soul embrace. The ultimate.
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