Goyo Carrizo, next to a replica of the Cebollitas stubbler.  Photo Sergio Araujo.

-If I could say something to Diego, I would simply tell him that if he was with me, everything that happened to him would not have happened. I’m convinced.

Gregorio carrizo (60) was Maradona’s best friend when Diego was just Fluff. He was barely eight years old the day he tried out at Argentinos Juniors but, by then, his fingers were no longer enough to count the mischief he had done with his buddy both at school and in the neighborhood. “We were the director’s little devils,” he describes.

Once the Cebollitas’ entrance ticket was bitten, Goyo – as they still call him today – threw one more rabona. “I have a friend who plays very well, he plays better than me. Can I bring it? ”He asked Francis Cornejo, the father of that legendary team. The ’60 category was already armed but, in order not to disappoint his new figure, the DT gave him the possibility.

Goyo arrived that afternoon at his Villa Fiorito with some crumpled bills in his hands to give them to a Diego who did not have enough coins to travel. They met later in Parque Saavedra. “He’s a dwarf,” thought Cornejo, who asked him several times for the document to confirm his age. The boys cared little: although they were short, their dreams reached up to the sky.

-Is it true that you were better than Diego?

– (Smiles) For some reason everyone who says or said that was never technical, ha. Maybe my game was more of a tribune, with a little more creativity… I was thinking about the people who were going to see us. Diego was more forceful. I always say that Diego was born a professional now, that’s why he came to First Division so early. In something we were alike …

-In what?

-In the attitudes. We were very nervous and wanted to be us. Sometimes he would say to me, for example: “Don’t throw a cue, Goyo.” And I would go and do it. We were both capricious, because we wanted to get away with it, but we were always shooting for the same side. In that we were similar … Later, in football, nothing to do, ha.

Goyo Carrizo, next to a replica of the Cebollitas stubbler. Photo Sergio Araujo.

That pair that was forged in the pastures gave way to two races with different directions. Gone are the neighborhood duels between Estrella Roja, the team of Don Diego Maradona and Tres Banderas, led by Carrizo Sr. On one side Pelu, on the other Goyo and around a neighborhood vibrating at the mercy of his pirouettes with the ball.

“We only played against it once and it was strong. It was like a Boca-River and they beat us… Then my dad told me: ‘Bring it on’ ”, Gregorio says. At the time, Diego’s father stopped being in charge of Estrella Roja. “He did not play – he continues – many games there. Today you go to Fiorito and they call you Red Star, but he always played for Tres Banderas, together. We couldn’t be apart, we knew each other from school ”.

-What is said today of Maradona in Villa Fiorito?

-The relationship between Diego and the neighborhood ended years ago when he went to distribute toys and, since they ran out, they broke his car … Today there is no court where we played with Diego: they invented one that they say is Diego’s pasture and it is unfortunate , because it is more dead business than alive. They are profiting from him and it hurts me. They waited for him to die to do this, because those people didn’t want him.

-Does it only happen in Villa Fiorito that they profit from him?

-I see him more present there, which is where I live. It is unfortunate what happens, but surely if Diego was alive he would not like them to do that.

-Today there are also versions of him that, perhaps, were unknown …

-It bothers me. I am bothered by the people who come out to speak today after Diego passed away. These things had to appear at the time, when he was alive. And that hurts a lot. It hurts, because if Diego were alive they wouldn’t appear. They don’t have their eggs laid, if they hadn’t said it at another time … Today they appear saying things, which are really outrageous. I don’t know what they are looking for, but there they are.

Fiorito Station - Diego Armando Maradona, on an inactive branch of the Belgrano Sur train.

Fiorito Station – Diego Armando Maradona, on an inactive branch of the Belgrano Sur train.

Two different paths

As Diego Maradona’s career began to grow, his relationship with Gregorio Carrizo gradually faded. Carrizo himself agrees during a conversation with Clarion, sitting on a replica of the stubble that Alberto Pérez boasts. On those four wheels, José Trotta took to play all the Cebollitas that shone with the talent of Pelu and Goyo.

“The day before the games, I always went to his house, or he to mine,” he recalls. But everything began to change shortly after the 9 tear the ligaments in the right knee during a Reserve match: “When I took off the cast, I saw the 13 points of the operation and I said: ‘I never play again’. I went to the best kinesiologist Diego paid me for 20 days and then I made the decision not to go any more ”.

-Do you regret not having finished rehab?

– (Silence) Yes, of course. Today I continue living in Fiorito for not paying attention to what they sent after the injury. I had to go for six months to recover: I went 20 days and never again. I was able to continue playing, but it is not the same. I continued in the neighborhood until a former player saw me and said: “You can’t be like this, I’m going to take you to a club to test you.” He took me to Dock Sud, I don’t forget any more when he came.

-As was?

-I told him I didn’t want to go because he had a game for a lot of money in Fiorito. “How much are they going to give you? I’ll give it to you, ”he told me. I wanted the money to go to the dance that night. I went, I tried myself in the first one at Dock Sud, I scored two goals and the coach told me I was there. I went to talk to the leaders and asked for more than usual. I asked first how much the captain earned and asked three times more, so as not to stay.

He did not want to stay, Goyo, because he had understood that his career began and ended in Argentinos at age 20, when learned to play with his left leg to forget your injury. He preferred to live off the pesos he collected playing in his neighborhood, without the demand for recovery. Until he was encouraged to return and passed through Dock Sud, Independiente Rivadavia and Barracas Central, among others.

-What did Diego say to you when you got injured?

-That I was going to get the best kinesiologist, and he complied. I spoke with him, he told me to go, but after 20 days I got bored and stayed in Villa Fiorito. Argentinos offered me an apartment to come and I didn’t want to …

-Why?

-I do not know. Today I always wonder why. Today I am very sorry, because …

It is difficult for Carrizo to continue. The question slows him down as did the injury that ended the life he dreamed of when the world was a chocolate bar, as Luis Alberto Spinetta described. The reflection of the sun gives him away: his eyes are glassy. “I have children,” he continues, “and I could have made a living from football, but I always say that God gave me another way to take Diego to the top. And it fills my soul ”.

-Did you ever believe that you had “a curse”?

-I always wondered why to me. He played two or three games well and in the last one he had an injury. In fact, my older brother told me: “You have to go to a healer.” I never believed in that. He wore some boots and socks of mine and the healer said he was cursed, but I never believed in that. What he wanted was to play and nothing more. I don’t feel like a failure.

Goyo and Diego, a friendship that was born at the age of six.

Goyo and Diego, a friendship that was born at the age of six.

Death, drugs and after

Gregorio Carrizo is, for many, the Maradona who could not be. But every time it is mentioned to him, he worries about denying it. “I grew up with Diego and my suffering is something special. When they told me that he died a part of my soul escaped me. After my mom and dad passed away, Diego’s was something very strong, because for me he was a brother ”.

On the fateful November 25, 2020, when the ball was widowed forever, Goyo was in the car with his grandson. He had gone to find a pit bull to take home. “They called me and told me: ‘Diego passed away’”. Little did he understand. “What Diego? My son? ”He asked. “No, Diego Maradona,” returned the voice on the other side of the phone.

Immediately, Pelu’s friend he threw himself to the side and began to cry. The grandson asked him if he was okay. And she didn’t answer him: the only answer was tears. “I went back to my house and we were all hugging crying. I was locked up without watching TV for three or four days. They were looking for me to talk and I didn’t want to go out. It was very strong, ”he recalls.

-Has it been a long time since you talked to him?

-Yes, since ’97. The last time it was in a Mauro Viale program that I was invited to pay tribute to. Afterwards I couldn’t see him anymore, although I wanted to do it because I knew it would do him good, but the environment was always there and I didn’t want to collide with them anymore. I grew up in a village and the Indian was going to go out, so I didn’t want to. I preferred not to demand anything.

– Was it the only thing that drove them away?

-Between us, everything is fine. When I was about to leave Argentinos, he told me: “You won’t go from here. We started together and we are going to finish together ”. Then I got injured, but we continued eating together and so on … When he went to Boca, our relationship began to change because we couldn’t see each other that often, but when we saw each other it was always the same.

-What was it you said to him the last time you saw him?

-Before the ’94 World Cup, I went to see him at Alegre’s ranch and we spent almost five hours in a room, where I told him very intimate things that cannot be repeated. One thing was about drugs. I said: “Pelu, I’m having a bad time, living badly. I have trades in front of my house and it did not come to this. You have to go out ”. And the only thing he said to me is: “I want to go out and I can’t.”

-That phrase must have resonated with you for a long time …

-It was actually a mirror for me, because I live in a village where everything happens. And Diego was a mirror to not reach that, that I could have done it. I was able to get high, but I didn’t: I tried to be an exemplary father and do everything in my power so that my six children have a good path. Thank God they are studying and I am proud.

Today, Goyo enjoys his days accompanying his children and grandchildren who play soccer to encourage that longing that for him was truncated. He also tries to take advantage of some money that comes his way to be able to pay for the medications that his wife requires, who suffered three strokes. “Today age leads you to not get a job, but I always try to watch football and be attentive,” he explains.

He had some attempt as a captor that allowed him to get excited about a career dedicated to that. In fact, he was the one who discovered “Pity” Gonzalo Martínez in Mendoza, long before he triumphed in River. “They rejected him because he was short,” he says. And Francis, who guessed that he was the best partner Maradona hadHe said: “Goyo, you have a future as a coach …”.

-And why didn’t you dedicate yourself to technical direction?

-I directed the Primera de El Porvenir without the license: it was with a special authorization that Julio Grondona had given me. Later I graduated as a technician, but today institutions and leaders know Goyo as a friend of Maradona… They do not know the intimacy of football or the vision that a group can have, nor do they think of it as a coordinator of Inferiores.

-Did you close many doors to be “Maradona’s friend”?

-Yes, but when I found out that the doors were closing on me because I was Maradona’s friend, I felt happier.

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