Angel Di Maria is an Argentinian professional footballer who turned his life around by sheer passion and hard work. He was not born to an affluent family, who could afford to fuel his hobby by sending him to fancy institutes. Instead, he grew up in poverty and lived in suburban Argentina.
Despite the cards that life had dealt him, Angel Di Maria made the most of what he had and never let go of his great. His talent, intelligence, and determination led him to become one of Argentina’s best football players.
Behind the fame that Angel Di Maria enjoys today lies many difficult times where he had to work odd and hard jobs to help his family pay the bills and have food on the table. Even the smallest of items like football boots came at a great expense as both his parents worked hard.
Due to his life circumstances, he understood hard work and managed to live a life that his father had always wished for. Before a career-ending injury, his father had been a professional football player. Therefore, coupled with a difficult childhood, Angel Di Maria was determined to prove himself as he rose out of the coal mines and onto the football field.
Angel Fabian Di Maria was born on 14 February 1988 in Rosario, Santa Fe. His parents were Miguel Di Maria and Diana Di Maria. He also had two sisters with whom he grew up on the outskirts of Rosario, Argentina’s second-largest city. It was a humble suburb stretching for miles away from the modern city of Rosario.
The suburban area was not the fanciest. There were dirt roads that were prone to flooding even in the lightest of rains. The only means of transport through these roads were horse-drawn carts, which were manned by informal garbage collectors.
In such a suburban area, to the south of Rosario, was a neighborhood named La Ceramica, where Angel Di Maria grew up. His father, Miguel Di Maria worked with coal to make ends meet. He had a tiny coal-making workshop that resided in a shed adjacent to their home.
It was here that Angel Di Maria first worked. Even though he was detailed to be tiny, he was able to carry heavy bags of coal to help his father with his work. When he was young, Di Maria was a hyperactive child, and he had way too much energy. Due to this hyper-activeness, his mother took him to the doctors, who suggested that she should get him involved in a sporting activity that would allow him to release some of his energy.
There were two sports that he could take part in, Karate and Football. Both of his parents agreed that he should take up football because it was Argentina’s national passion. Another reason for choosing football was that Angel Di Maria’s father was a fantastic football player and had a career as a professional player, but before he could make his big break in his favorite club River Plate, he underwent a knee injury that tanked his dreams of becoming a world-renowned football player. His injury was even more heartbreaking because he had been chosen as a reserve for River Plate.
His mother had also had a rough time as she did not have a permanent job and could not be of much help money-wise for her family. Therefore, Angel Di Maria’s hobby was tough on his parents, and had to scrape together the cash for football boots, when he needed them.
Angel Di Maria first gained recognition for his talent in the Torito neighborhood team. In one year, he managed to smash 64 goals, which gained him fame among local giants who were very interested in this young boy. Ar a very young age, he was recognized by Rosario Central, who paid a handsome sum of 35 footballs for his talent.
The rising football star used to go to training on his father’s bicycle. He would bike for almost 10 kilometers each day so that Angel would not miss football practice. Angel Di Maria has great respect for his childhood and the neighborhood he grew up in. He claims that it was the best thing that ever happened to him, and everything he learned was thanks to that place.
Despite being recognized for his talents, it is no secret that Angel had a difficult childhood. He learned to be tough on the streets of his neighborhood, and he also had to help his father in the coal shed. He worked tirelessly until the age of 17 in his father’s coal shed, which is when he made his debut with Rosario Central.
After his debut, within two years, he had become extremely popular, so much so that bigger leagues had started to take note of him and came to swoop him away from his hometown and into the bigger world of football.
His Journey Through Clubs
Angel Di Maria was indeed a football prodigy since he managed to join Rosario Central at age four. However, Rosario central had to pay for his talents as he had already committed to playing for a local club. They could not give up on such a natural talent. Thus, they gave Torito 35 footballs as compensation.
He made his professional debut on 14 December 2005 in Rosari’s final fixture of Apertura. The match was drawn at 2-2 to Independiente, and he replaced Emiliano Vecchio. However, he did not make his first goal till the next season. On 24 November 2006, he lead his team to victory by scoring a goal only a minute after he replaced Leonardo Borzani at halftime.
Angel Di Maria drew a lot of attention worldwide. When he went to play the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada, many clubs all around the world made attractive offers. Boca Juniors offered US $6.5 million for him, and Arsenal, an English club, also approached him. However, the deal fell through as the United Kingdom had strict rules on issuing work permits for overseas players, especially outside the European Union.
Angel Di Maria next transferred to the Portuguese side Benfica in July 2007. In this team, he played as a Winger and replaced Simao, Benfica’s old captain.
This club was very confident in Di Maria’s talents and paid Rosari Central a handsome sum for his transfer. The amount is reported to be 6 million Euros for 80% of his sports rights and 50% for another player, Andres Diaz. In August 2008, Benfica bought the remaining 20% with an extra 2 million euros. They later sold 10% of that to GestiFute.
In October 2009, he signed a new deal with Benfica that added three years to the current deal, which lasted till June 2015, and at the end, he was set to receive a fee of 40 million Euros. It was with this club that he scored his first hat-trick and won a match 4-0 against Leixoes.
Angel Di Maria made his transfer to Real Madrid official on 28 June 2010, when Real Madrid revealed that they had struck a deal with Benfica for the transfer of Angel Di Maria. With Real Madrid, he signed a five-year contract for 25 million euros with an additional 11 million euros.
His debut with the team was on 4 August 2010 with a friendly match played against Mexican side America. He did not score any goals, but Real Madrid won regardless. His first goal was against the team Hercules, which was another friendly match.
Angel Di Maria made his league debut against Mallorca on 29 August, where the match ended in a draw. However, a few days later on 18 September, Angel Di Maria scored his first goal for Real Madrid against Real Sociedad. A match that Real Madrid won 1-2.
Angel Di Maria scored many goals with Real Madrid and he was also awarded the man of the match by UEFA, but his time in this club was coming to a close in 2014.
Angel Di Maria, on 26 August 2014, signed a five-year deal with Manchester United. The transfer fee is one of the most expensive transfer fees of all time. Furthermore, it is also the highest fee paid by a British club at that time. By paying 59.7 million pounds, Manchester United gained an extraordinary player.
In this club, he inherited the legendary number 7 shirt, which was previously worn by legendary players such as David Beckham, Christiano Ronaldo, etc. Even though to fans the transfer may have seemed glamorous, Angel Di Maria revealed in an open letter that he had never wanted to leave his old club, but the board had become unsupportive and unfair.
His time in the club was a tumultuous one. He scored many goals and led his team to victory, but he also suffered from injury and had to sit out many of the matches.
After failing to board a flight to join Manchester United in their pre-season tour, Angel Di Maria underwent a medical and moved to Paris Saint-Germain. The transfer fee was undisclosed but estimated to be around 44 million pounds for four years.
Angel Di Maria had a rough childhood, and he had to work tirelessly to earn enough money to fuel his hobby. However, it built up his resilience and made him into a determined human being that stopped at nothing and aimed to achieve more and more in life.
In addition, he never forgot his past and made sure that the people who raised him and the place he was raised were always honored. When he started to play professionally, he made his father quit working and bought his parents and sister a house, as a way of showing thanks.
He also got a tattoo that said ‘Nacer en El Perdriel fué y será lo Mejor que me pasó en la Vida’ on his left arm, which meant ‘To be born in El Perdriel was and will be the best thing that has ever happened to me in my life.’
His story, therefore, remains one of the most inspirational success stories in football history.