I had started to play football when I was five in Parque Chas, a very modest club in Buenos Aires. I learned a lot from my first manager, Gabriel Rodriguez, about how a manager should treat a child. I loved his way of teaching.
Later, the manager who gave me my debut at River Plate (below) was Ramón Díaz, a born motivator.
I had an incredible time with him.
I was 16, and still had a long way to go before getting into the first team.
There were just a few fixtures left until the end of the season and three of the first-team forwards were injured. That left two in the squad.
Díaz wanted to take another forward for a match against Gimnasia de Jujuy.
I was playing in the third division and sometimes I would train with them, but I never imagined what was going to happen.
“The first half hour of training was all about touching and playing with the ball – always without opposition”
The last training session before the match had just finished, and when I went into the dressing room my name was there on the board.
When you walk past it and you see your name, you don’t quite believe it. You think it’s there for some other reason. But I was among the players selected. Everything went from there.
I was on the bench.
A forward got injured in the first half. There was only one left on the pitch and the manager made the decision to put me on in the second half.
I remember being very nervous, but the nerves disappeared the moment I went on to the pitch because of what Diaz said to me. “Be calm. You are not responsible. The older players are.”
Those were the right words at the right time. I’ll always remember them. He lifted all of that responsibility I could have felt on the pitch. I went on, and I scored.