Marcelo Couceiro in his house, where he lives with the family of his eldest son.  Photo Martin Bonetto

Marcelo Couceiro He points to the bed and says that he spent it there, covered up to his head and that at most he peeked out to watch television. He was depressed. He tells it in the house where he lives since April 18, when he left the Mendoza prison where he he was less than four months away from serving his sentence for the crime of armed robbery. She now lives in the same house with her son, her daughter-in-law and her granddaughter, whom she met through video calls.

Couceiro is the same one who gave Chiquito Bossio the precise ball to score a header against Racing. In Primera he played in Estudiantes, Almagro and Nueva Chicago; and in the Ascent, also in the little bull, Quilmes and Los Andes, among others. The last stop, Schoolboys, with promotion from Primera C to B. He had a good time with soccer, “but that’s it,” he tells Clarion in the privacy of the room where he reviewed his recent history. The one with the “stain” that remains forever.

After hanging up the boots, then, you had to work. He was a driver in a company -remise type- and later he had a truck with a camera and transported meat. Up to there the life of any worker. In 2016 something started to unravel. First, the death of his father; then a love breakup; and in the middle a traffic accident with total destruction of his work environment. One day he stopped getting out of bedit became customary not to leave the horizontal position or to feed or bathe.

Marcelo Couceiro in his house, where he lives with the family of his eldest son. Photo Martin Bonetto

With no job, money began to run out and the idea that soon she would not be able to feed her children began to buzz in her head. On August 13 he is serving his sentence, now he enjoys a assisted liberty that allowed him to leave three months earlier, thanks to the management of the lawyer Marcelo Carimi. The Turkish, who was a teammate in Chicago, is now a criminal and appeared on the scene in the final stretch of a nightmare that had begun five years earlier.

-What is it like to be a thief suddenly, what was the first step since the decision?

-I went and got a gun, I had no bullets, I knew I wasn’t going to hurt anyone.

-But, “I got a gun”… How?

-I went to the neighborhood and said: I need a weapon. I paid her 5 thousand pesos. ‘What do you want her for?’ To defend my house, I said. I got out of there and started shitting myself. I always hung out with good people, people who didn’t steal. I don’t have thief friends, but listen, you know: this one did this, that other… in all the clubs there are people… in the fans… people who do things well and others who do them badly.

-And then?

I got a car and went out. I would go into (a store) and take what was in the box. Three in the day I did the day they catch me. It was rally mode, it is said. Before those, that month, he had done others, as well.

Do you remember what you felt while you were stealing?

-I felt several things. Fear. The things I did I can’t believe. I don’t know which way my head went. I don’t understand why I did what I did. On the one hand the depression, I wanted money.

Couceiro played in Nueva Chicago, Estudiantes and Almagro in Primera.  Then on the Ascent.  Photo Martin Bonetto

Couceiro played in Nueva Chicago, Estudiantes and Almagro in Primera. Then on the Ascent. Photo Martin Bonetto

-You say it was a deep depression. Did you seek therapeutic help?

-I voluntarily entered the April Clinic. I came out fine, skinny, fine, fine. But I fell again. It’s very fucked up. I always say that those who did not suffer from depression do not know what we are talking about.

-Did you think about killing yourself?

-I had, I had (thinks)… yes. When I went to live alone. I never lived alone, I always had a partner, a partner. I thought about it many times, I didn’t want to live anymore. I couldn’t think how to do it. I didn’t have enough balls to kill myself, but I thought about it.

-What did you think when they arrested you?

-That’s where I got the record of everything I did. When I got to the prison I said to myself: ‘What am I doing here?’ With my career as a football player I ended there. Not just me, I wondered, but everyone.

Couceiro received Clarín at his home in Ituzaingo.  Photo: Martin Bonetto

Couceiro received Clarín at his home in Ituzaingo. Photo: Martin Bonetto

Life in the pavilions

After his arrest, the next five years were behind bars. First from the mayor’s office, then in different prisons: Ezeiza, Marcos Paz, La Pampa and Mendoza. In each place, the common thread was soccer: in all they recognized it and that was presented as a benefit for a complex subsistence.

-Did they recognize you in the different prisons?

-There were always people who knew me. everyone asked me the same thing What are you doing here? That’s why I didn’t have a bad time. They took me, as they say in the jargon, to ranch with them, to be at the table with them. I didn’t have a bad time, but I saw horrible things in there.

-Like what?

-One day, in La Pampa for example, at six in the morning the person in charge of opening the doors for us just opened the one in front of mine and the boy was hanged. They had applied mafia to him, he knew they were going to kill him when he got out. There if you are for trafficking, violations, you have a bad time. For drugs too, but not as much. If you are Bolivian, Paraguayan, Peruvian or of another nationality, they take you to the phone and make you talk to the family and ask for money and threaten to kill the woman. In Marcos Paz, they stabbed each other. Once a week they killed each other. They fought over the telephone, there were five or six telephones, one for each ranch, and one came to dispute it and they disputed big shots that ended when the guards entered shooting at the ceiling. Not in Mendoza, not in Ezeiza either, I was there with the political prisoners.

Couceiro will finish serving his sentence in August 2022. Photo Martin Bonetto

Couceiro will finish serving his sentence in August 2022. Photo Martin Bonetto

-How was that?

-They said that Lázaro Báez had knocked down a wall to make a large cell for him… all that is a lie. Of course, they had their heater, their fan, their portable DVD player, they couldn’t even have a television. There were 12 of us, there was Ricardo Jaime, Lázaro Báez, José López, the one with the nuns and the bags… all very reserved. Ricardo Jaime was the one with whom I spoke the most. Lázaro Báez was always very depressed… José López acted crazy. He walked with a little ball came and went. I don’t know if he did it with the intention of leaving for psychiatric reasons. With Jaime, a fan of Talleres from Córdoba, we talked a lot about football. I was only one month. One day they put me on a bus and transferred me. They don’t tell you where and you arrive and they keep you for two or three days in case you have an argument from outside with someone who is already inside. And these guys (N of the R: for the inmates), through the peephole they put mafia at the entrance: “When you get out we’re going to kill you”, this, that… Or, worse, they don’t do anything to you, they don’t tell you anything, and when you go out they steal everything. You stay in flip flops and shorts… Those are anti-jets, as they say in the jargon. They beat you and rob you when you arrive.

-I pass you?

-Nerd. Because there are many people from Mataderos, Lugano. Where I played in general are city clubs, everyone knew me…. So they took me with them.

-That gave you peace of mind…

-Not at all. Today they are fine and tomorrow, out there, all wrong. You have to get up first thing in the morning, pay attention to everything. It was not easy.

Do you make friends in prison?

-No, in jail you don’t make friends. You can have a cellmate, but not friendship.

-And in football?

-Yes, what happens is that you begin to see yourself less as the years go by.

Did someone from football visit you?

-Do not. Just now I’m contacting people. They give me all the support, they know who I am, who I was. When I was little I ate bread with cooked mate, my family was very humble. When I had my first silver at 18, I was very generous. I helped a lot of people in my neighborhood. Money never changed me.

-Except when you didn’t have it…

-Yes, added to the other things. When I stayed at zero, the world came crashing down on me.

-You said that football was always the link in prison. What did they ask you?

-What went through your head that you went to steal? Didn’t touch a contact? Why weren’t you technical director? I still don’t understand it. The only thing I thought was the big depression and that my life had no meaning. I thought of my children, I did not care about my life.

– Do you think that with the passage of time you will understand what “what went through your head” was?

I’m going to have that answer. I did what I did for a reason, it wasn’t because I’m a thief. That was a month of my life and I am 47 years old. He hadn’t stolen a piece of candy before.

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