Maxi RODRIGUEZ will go to the bench for Atlético de Madrid this Saturday against Betis and this is great news for our national team.
He spoke with Olé and talked about how he lived this time away from the pitch, how he remembers that great goal he scored against Mexico in the World Cup, how his grandfather is a key figure in his life and how his childhood hero surprised him after he got injured.
“I had the surgery in the morning and at night, my mobile phone rang and I heard him saying: “Hi Maxi, is Cholo speaking”. I was excited to talked to him. Diego SIMEONE was my childhood hero. When I played as a little boy, I pretended to be SIMEONE. So you can imagine what it meant to me for him to call me that day. I was also called by HEINZE, FIGUEROA, Gonzalo RODRIGUEZ and even XAVI (the FC Barcelona midfielder). He is adored by the supporters of Atletico de Madrid and I wish that one day he can have the chance to coach me”.
“I met SIMEONE when he was in the national team and I was a young kid playing for the sparring team in Argentina’s training sessions. Back in those days he always supported me and he used to tell me to keep up my hard work that one day I’d make it. I remember I was lucky enough to play against him once. I was in Espanyol and he played for Lazio. After the game we swapped shirts. Those are memories that I’ll keep forever.”
“My leg has responded very well. It is an injury that is very tough and it depresses you at the beginning, because everything is very slow and it seems like you’ll never have the chance to play again. But here I am. I’m ready now.”
“To play in the Copa America is one of my goals. I have it on my mind. But I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself because I don’t want to take a false step. I want to take it slow, play some matches for Atlético…but at the same time, I’ll work the best I can to return to our national team and have the manager (Alfio BASILE) to consider me”
“I know that BASILE have always said good things about me and it really makes me proud when I read on the news what he said about me. It is one of those things that give me strenght, because it was a short period that I shared with him prior my injury, just two days. And we just talked about basic things for that friendly against Spain. I wish I’m still in his plans for the Copa America”
“BASILE also called me after the surgery. He always gave me peace of mind. He said not to rush my recovery, not to try and comeback right away. That really helps.”
“Everytime the number of the AFA (Argentine Football Association) appears on my mobile’s caller ID, I’m happy. Because there is nothing better than the Albiceleste for me.”
“I don’t know if I’m a player identified with our national team. I leave that for others to say. I feel I’m estimated. I’m always eager to play for Argentina.”
“I think I’ve lived wonderful things with the Albiceleste: Being U20 World Cup champions and doing it in your own country was really important. It even caused my name to be known in Buenos Aires, because when you are from the inner Argentina (Rosario), it is harder for the people in the big city to know who you are. That Youth World Cup title opened the doors of Europe for me. And then, of course, playing in Germany 2006 was really huge for me, despite that pain that still remains inside”.
“I just watched my goal against Mexico once right after the World Cup. The thing is that I tried to forget about the World Cup, such was the pain that I felt after being knocked out by Germany. I tried to do things not related to football. I didn’t even watch the semifinals or the final. I think I’ll forget that pain that Germany 2006 left me if I have the chance to play the next World Cup (South Africa 2010).”
“Back in Madrid, I watched that goal more often. I wanted to look for things to cheer me up and to lighten my mood while I was injured.”
“My grandfather became a celebrity in Argentina! After the World Cup, the media interviewed him more than they interviewed me! But he deserves the recognition. He did a lot of efforts to take me to my local club (Malvinas) when I was a little boy. And besides, he was the one who insisted that I use the left foot to kick the ball aswell. It was thanks to him that I managed to scored with my left against Mexico”.