The secrets of Salvatore Carmando, Maradona’s personal masseur: the ritual with Diego before the games and the day he gave him “a scare to death”

Carmando accompanies Diego at the end of a Napoli match

“I have Diego in my heart, I will never forget him. I lived with him for seven fabulous years. I miss him so much. I don’t usually give interviews. But I will speak after a year of his death, “he confesses Salvatore carmando, who was a personal masseuse for Diego Armando Maradona in its stage in Napoli between 1984 and 1991.

“I massaged Pelusa an hour before each game. His legs were different from the rest of the players. His muscles were hard and flexible at the same time; I never saw anything like this. He would lie down on a stretcher and relax, as if in a trance. He didn’t say anything while he massaged her. I used a special cream, which I made with mud. It was a recipe that I never told anyone “, wrote the physiotherapist in his book” Le Mani su D10S “(The hand of God), dedicated purely and exclusively to the Argentine star.

Salvatore learned to be a masseuse thanks to his father, who taught him the trade in his spare time. “It was a family tradition. We were 14 brothers and 10 of us were masseurs, we learned from him. Then I went to Naples to take courses as a physiotherapist and sports masseuse. It was mandatory to have the title to be able to work in a football club ”, described the Italian, who worked 35 years in the service of Azzurro before retiring.

“Sasá”, as Pelusa nicknamed him, was born in Salerno 78 years ago. He emigrated to Naples to study and in 1974 he was signed by Axzurro under the command of the then president, Corrado Ferlaino. Ten years later he would become the henchman of the best player in the world, in addition to becoming his friend and, above all, the therapist who would take care of his muscles for a decade.

So close was the relationship between the two that El Diez took him to the World Cup in Mexico 86, where Salvatore not only took care of his muscles but was also one of the chefs of the Argentine team in the facilities of the Club América premises.

“Maradona in Mexico made history. I watched his second goal against England in the quarterfinals on one side of the pitch, because they didn’t let me be on the Argentine substitute bench. But that was my luck. In fact, Diego came to celebrate just below the rostrum in front, where I was. I understood immediately that I had seen the most beautiful feat in history. We hug and cry together“Carmando said about the second goal for the English, considered the most beautiful goal in the history of football.

In dialogue with Infobae From Italy, Maradona’s former personal masseuse revealed details of how his friendship with the Argentine star was born. When was the last time they spoke, the day she called him at 7 AM to ask for a massage and the ritual they shared before games.

– One year has passed since Maradona’s death. What memories do you have about him?

-I have Diego in my heart, I will never forget him. I lived with him for seven fabulous years. How can you forget everything you did for Naples? He gave happiness to many people and to an entire town that was beaten. Maradona arrived and everything changed.

– When was the last time you spoke to him?

-The day of his 60th birthday. He called me on October 29, 2020 to greet me on my birthday. The next day, I called him to congratulate him on his 60s. I was not listening well. It was the last time we spoke and this makes me feel terrible. I was shocked.

– How was Diego like a teammate?

-He was one of the best I found in my career, leaving aside his private life, which is something else. He helped many people. I went to eat at his house very often. It was very familiar. I was with Claudia and we ate together. More than companions, we were great friends. With Diego I have a date in heaven. I’m going to be your masseur there too when it’s my turn to leave.

– How was your friendship with him born?

-We became friends almost immediately. It was on the first day of concentration in Castel del Piano, in Tuscany. He approached the stretcher, stayed for a while watching me work and said: “You will be my only masseur.” He did not allow himself to be touched by others. To lie down on the massage table, he waited for all his companions to come out of the locker room. We stayed there, alone and for hours. Thus was born a personal relationship, as well as a professional one. He was the most generous person I knew, he was everyone’s friend, no one in the locker room spoke ill of him.

– Is it true that she called you at any time to give you massages?

-Yes, and I was going without any problem. I remember one day he called me at 7 AM to come to his house. I ran there. When I arrived, he told me that we were going to win against Juventus with a goal from him. So it was. It was the day of Diego’s free kick to the left corner of Stefano Tacconi at the San Paolo. A footballer like him, with his lower body and that power that he had, I did not see him in another. He was so muscled that he never had a muscle problem. Not a break, not a contracture, not a puncture.

Salvatore carmando
The masseur, today. He supported the idea that the San Paolo be named after Maradona

– What did you know about Diego before his arrival in Italy?

-That he scored goals for Barcelona and that he was a phenomenon. I remember when he arrived in Naples, the city and the stadium went crazy. On the day of his presentation there were 70,000 people just to watch him juggle. Impressive, and only Diego could generate something like that. Today, just remembering it gives me great joy. With him, Naples began to play football and was respected throughout Italy. He was the best player of all time, without a doubt.

– Do you agree that the San Paolo bears your name?

– Calling the stadium with his name is something nice and it was the best thing the institution did.

– What did that Azzurro team have that won everything it set out to do?

-A formidable team, which had to be convinced in each game that they were stronger than their rivals. In this way, he won everything. It was the great strength of Napoli at that time. Diego in the field had an unusual technique and intelligence. Maradona was number one, but he had many other champions by his side. Careca was the second most talented player in the world. I’ve never seen a forward like the Brazilian again …

– What ritual did you share with Diego before the games?

Maradona approached me, showed me the team crest on his shirt, hugged me and kissed my head. He always did.

– They were so confident that Diego was capable of making practical jokes, could it be?

-Yes, one day he scared me to death. I had left my room to make the rounds in the rooms and He took advantage of that moment to crawl under my bed with Carnevale and Bruno Giordano. When I lay down, they started pounding non-stop. I almost die (laughs)

– Who taught Diego the Italian language?

-Nobody, learned alone. And I learned a little Spanish when I went to Mexico with the Argentine team.

– What was it like being part of the champion delegation in the World Cup 86?

-I have the Argentines in my heart because we won an incredible World Cup. Maradona in Mexico made history. I watched his goal against England in the quarterfinals on one side of the pitch, because they didn’t let me be on the Argentine substitute bench. But that was my luck. In fact, Diego came to celebrate just below the rostrum in front, where I was. I understood immediately that I had seen the most beautiful feat in history. We hug and cry together.

– Why were you about to leave the Argentine squad during the World Cup?

-We arrived in Mexico and he had had diarrhea for ten days. I told Diego that I couldn’t take it anymore and that I wanted to go back to Italy. When he saw me packing my suitcase, he came over and said, “Wait a bit longer.” A while later, Maradona came out of retirement with a member of the team and reappeared after an hour with two boxes of mineral water. I never knew where he got them from, but the stomach pain disappeared.

-He was also part of the Argentine squad in the United States 94 World Cup

-That year Diego returned to football at its highest level. I was by his side again in the World Cup, in which he was not allowed to win and he was incriminated. But it was the strongest team in the world. It was exciting meeting players from different eras like Claudio Paul Caniggia and Daniel Passarella.

Marco Giuliani collaborated in the translation

Salvatore carmando
Carmando and Diego, in a practice in Naples. To massage it he used a special preparation


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