Ángel Di María details how Real Madrid prevented him from playing World Cup Final

Angel Di Maria in action for Argentina || Image credit: Imago

Ángel Di María details how Real Madrid prevented him from playing World Cup Final

Faruq Ibrahim 23:13 - 16.02.2024

Angel Di Maria recalls the heartbreaking injury that prevented him from partaking in the 2014 World Cup final.

Ángel Di María narrates the morning of the 2014 World Cup Final and his emotions after learning he could not play. As the Argentine winger sat on the trainer's table, poised to defy his physical limitations for a chance at glory, a letter from Real Madrid threatened to derail his dreams, highlighting the cold, commercial underbelly of the sport.

A Clash of Dreams and Realities

"It was the morning of the 2014 World Cup Final, at exactly 11 a.m., and I was sitting on the trainer’s table about to get an injection in my leg. I had torn my thigh muscle in the quarterfinals, but with painkillers, I could run without feeling anything. I told our trainers these exact words: 'If I break, then let me keep breaking. I don’t care. I just want to be able to play.'"

As Di María recounted, the intervention of Real Madrid, citing concerns over his fitness, was a stark reminder of football's business side. The club's desire to protect its asset, with an eye on reshuffling the squad for James Rodríguez, laid bare the often unseen calculations that influence decisions on the pitch. 

"I immediately knew what was happening. Everybody had heard the rumours that Real wanted to sign James Rodríguez after the World Cup, and I knew that they were going to sell me to make room for him. So they didn’t want their asset to be damaged. It was that simple. That’s the business of football that people do not always see."

Undeterred, Di María's response to the letter was emblematic of his resolve: "I told Daniel to give me the letter. I didn’t even open it. I just ripped it into pieces and said, 'Throw it away. The one who decides here is me.'"

Argentina star Di Maria || Imago
Argentina star Di Maria || Imago

The Emotional Toll of a Dream-Deferred

The night before the final was restless for Di María, not just because of the Brazilian fans' fireworks but also because of the weight of the moment. His desire to play, even at the cost of his career, clashed with the team's needs, leading to a heart-wrenching conversation with manager Alejandro Sabella.

 "I sincerely wanted to play that day even if it ended my career. But I also didn’t want to make things complicated for our team."

His commitment to the team's success over his ambitions culminated in an emotional plea to Sabella, a moment that would haunt Di María long after the final whistle. "And then I started crying. I couldn’t help it. The moment had overwhelmed me."

In the end, Di María did not play. Argentina's loss in the final was a bitter pill to swallow, compounded by speculation and criticism over his absence.

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