In Argentina, Leo is cheered on by Maradona: when a goal is worth… a dip in the pool

At Villa Devoto, in Diego’s villa, the doors were opened to Albiceleste fans: with Australia there were 500 of them, we hope to celebrate again

Villa Devoto was once considered the garden of Buenos Aires. Few tower blocks, almost no traffic and – above all – many, many trees. Then in 1981, after the millionaire transfer from Argentinos Juniors to Boca, it also became the new barrio of the Maradona family, with Diego who gave a 1200 square meter mansion to the family, definitively brought out of the tunnel of poverty: “By now you have become the king of football, but to be a good king it is not enough to know how to dominate the ball – we read in the columns of Cronìca – the throne must also be worthy of its occupant. You need a palace like this and you deserve it all…”. A dining room decorated in marble, numerous rooms. Someone even spoke of an indoor pool complete with a waterfall. Maradona took refuge there in the summer, while his parents tried to carry on what had always been their lifestyle. The father, Chitoro, continued to get up shortly after dawn each morning, as he did when he worked in the bonemeal factory. The mother, Tota, often quarreled with the neighbors, but she found her smile again when the numerous children of the neighborhood knocked on the door to receive autographed stamps from their idol.

Déjà vu

Within those walls the Maradonas all met together to celebrate Christmas, New Year’s Eve or the 1986 triumph at the Azteca. They also cried over the final loss to West Germany at Italia 90. Today, over 30 years later, there is no one left. Diego died, Tota and Chitoro died. But that house has returned to vibrate for Argentina. Yes, because the new owners – a group of entrepreneurs – surprisingly opened the doors on the occasion of the match from home or away against Australia, the eighth final that many feared not to play after the sensational crash of the debut with Saudi Arabia. Slowly the garden began to fill up with fans. Who was going to meet at a bar, who to a friend. Many have passed by those parts, only to then turn their gaze and notice with amazement that yes, Diego’s old house was open. Word spread quickly and over 500 gathered in front of the big screen set up for the occasion. Cheers, cheers, tears of joy: when Julian Alvarez doubled someone’s lead, some couldn’t resist and even dived into the pool.

The fire

The same scenes, who knows whether with a final bath or not, will also be repeated for the quarter-final against the Netherlands. An intersection already seen, in 2014 it was a semi-final and it went well with the victory of Messi and his companions on penalties. In the same year a serious fire destroyed a large part of the house, disintegrating everything inside, including the Ballon d’Or for Lifetime Achievement with which in 1995 France Football paid further tribute to Diego’s career. But if Maradona’s life was tormented, the same could also be said for the home of Villa Devoto, immediately targeted for his unbridled and inappropriate luxury in an Argentina in serious economic difficulty. Furthermore, at the end of 2021, the house was put up for auction with a starting price of $900,000, but no buyer showed up.

In extremis

The demolition procedures had begun last April, interrupted in extremis by the initiative of a group of entrepreneurs with enough money in their pockets and with Diego in their hearts. Nothing is known about them, nor about what they will decide to do in the future. There are several hypotheses on the table, what is certain is that they will make the house open to visitors. Especially for the schools and for the poor kids of Buenos Aires, just as Diego would have liked: “If you’ve already found the peace that we stole from you, come back here because everyone misses you”, reads a banner that the fans have hung in garden. Meanwhile, for 90′, or maybe even more, time will seem to stop. All together for Argentina in the temple that belonged to Diego. Hoping that history can repeat itself.

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In Argentina, Leo is cheered on by Maradona: when a goal is worth… a dip in the pool

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