The Department of Maradona in Villa Devoto it was the scene of an interview that lasted two hours. Very few journalists have had the privilege of chatting face-to-face with him. Ten in his house. One of them was the Uruguayan Jorge Ramos back in October 1997 when I was working for the American chain Telemundo. Fluff was taking a nap. When he wakes up, he calls his nephew Diego López so that we can go to his home together. At first I was afraid that he would not show up because that was what he had done two days before. But when I saw it, it put me at ease. Then, he gave a talk as if we were two people who had known each other for a long time. He was an affable, open and sincere Diego Maradona ”, acknowledges the Uruguayan.
Ramos’ journalistic goal for that interview had an impact on his daily work. Let Telemundo where he fulfilled the role of soccer reporter to become a host of television programs for the network of ESPN Sports in Miami: “If journalists found characters like Maradona to interview, our work would be much simpler. And we would even go less prepared than if we had to do it to a character X ”.
At the time Maradona received Ramos, his friend and representative Guillermo Coppola was being held in the Caseros jail for a cause of drug possession: “Coppola never asked me for money to do that interview. I knew that he defended Diego’s interests, but I also know that he demanded money from other media so that he Ten do interviews at your home, “says the journalist.
Today Ramos recalls details of the meeting at the mythical property of Segurola and Havana: “It had trophies and a stand with cassettes and VHS videos. Also, a museum of more than a thousand shirts. In addition, some curiosities such as the boots with which he carried out the masterful goal against England and the shirt with which he was World Champion in Mexico 86 ”.
In a dialogue with Infobae, Ramos reveals intimacies of that interview and also tells how he became a spontaneous emissary chosen by Diego to carry a message to then-US President Bill Clinton: “He recorded a personal video with a special request” that involved the daughters of Maradona, Dalma and Giannina. The journalist says that after the interview they went up to the terrace of the building, where the pool was, and in that place they recorded the video bound for the White House.
– How long did the heads-up with Diego Maradona last?
-The interview lasted 2 hours. There was a preamble that was part of it where he showed me the enormous amount of t-shirts that he had in his home museum, an impressive collection. Without a doubt, it was an unforgettable day as a journalist and with an admirer of the greatest soccer player of all time. I doubt that a player like him can be repeated. In general, we talk about many things, including politics.
– What surprised you the most about him?
-The man in his entirety. The benefits as a human being. Mental speed despite the serious problems he was going through. The verbiage he had. Then came the stages where he babbled a little to express himself. At that time, I was surprised by their openness to speak and their kindness of people. I caught it on a really good day. He felt very comfortable and let his nephew know.
– Did you put any conditions to give the interview?
-We talk about all the issues, even about his illness. He never put a condition on it. He showed a very clear vision of football and you could tell that he was going to be a coach, which was what he wanted the most. In addition, he told me about how important Boca was in his life and his fanaticism for that club. Also, about what Ricardo Bochini meant for his beginnings and why he was always his great idol. He spoke highly of Goyo, the one who was his best friend in childhood. At first I was scared, but then Diego Maradona was affable, open and sincere. He coordinated everything in his house very well. It was a specific and pivotal moment in my journalistic career.
– What was he afraid of?
-That he didn’t show up. It had happened two days before. I had it closed and it did not appear. The next, he didn’t either. It was only on the third day that we were able to do it. I had committed to Telemundo and he couldn’t return to the United States without the interview. We had invested a lot of money. We brought three producers and a lot of recording teams. At first, I was anxious and afraid. When he appeared, he calmed me down and then when we started, he gave the talk as if we were two people who had known each other for a long time. He generated that for you. I had to interview Lionel Messi only once and it was much more difficult for me to talk.
Because Messi is much more difficult to get a word out of him. You threw the thread for Diego where you wanted to go and he worked out the rest, he was leaving you a lot of possibilities to jump and intrude. Diego delved into the subject. If journalists found characters like Maradona to interview, our work would be much simpler. And we would even go less prepared than if we had to do it to a character X. Diego was very generous with me, he gave me the T-shirt that he had on for the interview, which is a relic. And we took several photos. He took me through the different floors, on the ninth there was the pool and a terrace, where we finished the interview. That’s where we recorded a video of Bill Clinton. The request was that they allow him to enter North American territory again.
After the 1994 World Cup in the United States, when Maradona had to withdraw from the competition after testing positive for anti-doping, he could no longer enter that country. Not only did they “cut off his legs” as the Ten metaphorized after the news, but they also decreed the prohibition to enter the United States. Three years later, when Ramos came to interview him in Buenos Aires, Diego told him the reasons why he wanted to return to the northern country: “He told me that his dream was to take his daughters Dalma and Giannina to see Disney in Orlando.” At that time the girls were eight and ten years old.
In the video that Maradona addresses President Bill Clinton, he does not mention that desire to go to Disney. He emphasizes that he would like to go direct to the United States because his former partner Chiche So Señora spoke very highly of football in that country. Maradona says that he does not know why the prohibition persists if he no longer has pending causes, he also offers to show his treatment so that they can prove that he had stayed away from the drug. Towards the end of the video, Diego also indulges in humor and says: “Bill, you hugged Menem, aren’t you going to let me in? Go on Bill! ”. Maradona’s message was later subtitled by Telemundo, as Diego himself announces as the closing of his communication to the American president.
– Did you get the video to Clinton?
-Yes, it did. In addition, it appeared in various local press media. But the request did not take effect. The company I worked for (Telemundo) wanted to do the management to help Diego to enter the country. There was a procedure that he needed to do, which was to go to the US consulate in Argentina to begin the process and then to intervene the lawyers put on by the television network to help him. But Diego didn’t want to do it …
-Because it was a complicated moment in his life, since his friend and representative Guillermo Coppola was in prison for a drug cause. So, he could never find the right time to do the paperwork. In addition to the low mood that dragged by that situation.
– Was he very hurt?
-Yes, he told me about the injustice that existed in Argentina because of what they had done to Guillermo. I remember that there were other people in his house accompanying him. One of his lawyers and several friends. He did not understand the presence of these strangers. Their reasons would have. But he had always heard that his surroundings were not the best. That day, I had that same feeling. That there was an environment that took advantage of him.
– What political thought did Diego have at that time?
– He was always inclined by Fidel Castro. I come from Miami, where there are a large number of Cubans. Maradona could not return to the United States after what happened at the 94 World Cup. Unfortunately, he died and was never able to return to this country in one of the most ridiculous decisions of the local federal government towards an athlete. And it was because of the positive doping in the World Cup. The truth is that Diego’s response surprised me at the time.
– What did he say to you?
-He strictly defended his position in favor of the former dictator Castro. He said he “wanted the poor to be defended.” But it made me notice what had happened with the “Mariel Exodus” when 125,000 Cubans in the 1980s crossed the strait to reach the United States, more precisely the state of Florida. Many lives of children, women and men were lost along the way and were eaten by sharks. He assured me that he was not in favor of people not being allowed to leave Cuba freely.
– With that idea he showed that he did not support all the decisions made by Commander Castro …
-Which surprised me. Because one of the attitudes that the Cuban government maintains until now is not to allow the exodus of its citizens; with exceptions logically. At that time in Cuba the doors were closed to everyone and many Cuban men and women jumped into the sea to escape communism. Diego did not have at that time the extremist position of endorsing everything that the Fidel government did.
– Did he tell you about his family?
Yes, of all. From his ex-wife Claudia Villafañe and his daughters Dalma and Giannina. In addition, his mother Doña Tota, his brothers and sisters. I was left with a strong phrase about his father when he told me that: “My old man is in the group of my best friends. In my time with my father, I did not have the relationship that today I could have a child with his father. It was about talking little. But with my eyes I already knew what I had to do ”.
– What surprised you about what he said in the interview?
-That almost 20 years later I had a lot of resentment towards Cesar Luis Menotti because he had left him out of the 78 World Cup. He caught my attention when he told me “I could have been calm. But I think the skinny chose well. We are among the real champions because before we were the moral winners ”. He surprised me when he said that he would have to choose a shirt over the other thousand that he had in his museum, his favorite was that of Enzo Francescoli of the Uruguay National Team. It struck a chord with me because I am Uruguayan. Having in his museum coats of Careca, Pelé, Ronaldhino, Ronaldo, Valderrama, Cruyff, among others, he chose that of Enzo. I can guarantee you that those of his time were all of the most important stars in the history of football. I think that in order to reach that enormous amount of jackets, he exchanged with starters and substitutes from most of the first line of world football.
The confessions of a former member of the Maradona clan: the incredible gesture with the glass cleaners to the day that camouflaged a million dollars to enter the country
The memories of a former partner of Maradona in Seville: the only rule in the trips with Diego and the unknown gesture with a homeless man