Angel Di Maria has finally lifted the lid on his absence from the 2014 World Cup final, sensationally claiming that his club at the time—Real Madrid— made a formal request that he be rested for the clash against Germany since he was carrying an injury.
On the face of it, the request sounds like a genuine attempt from Los Blancos to keep one of the biggest names on their roster healthy, but in a first-hand account for The Players’ Tribune, Di Maria reveals that it was all a ploy to ensure he didn’t damage himself as the club were preparing to offload him in the summer.
“I remember getting the letter from Real Madrid and tearing it up before I even opened it,” Di Maria penned.
“It was the morning of the 2014 World Cup Final, at exactly 11 am, 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.”
The World Cup final is the biggest match in football bar none, for it comes only once in four years and Di Maria’s revelation are damming for the Spanish giants, who have been known to be ruthless when it comes to replacing their players.
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“So I was putting ice on my leg when our team doctor, Daniel Martínez, came into the room holding this envelope, and he said, Look, angel, this paper came from Real Madrid.”
“I said, What are you talking about? He said, Well, they’re saying you’re not in any condition to play. So they are forcing us to not let you play today.”
Eventually, Di Maria didn’t end up playing, but he insists he made himself available for selection to then manager Alejandro Sabella, despite taking a number of pain-killing injections in the build up to the final in Brazil.
“I immediately knew what was happening. Everybody had heard the rumours that Real wanted to sign James Rodriguez 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.”
Argentina would go on to miss Di Maria’s services in the final against a resolute Die Mannschaft side, with Mario Gotze scoring a memorable winner deep in extra-time to give the Europeans a narrow win and their fourth world title.
The wiry winger, who had just won the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid a month before the World Cup, would then depart for Manchester United in an ill-fated move.
His miserable time in England was cut short a season later as Paris Saint-Germain came in for him in the summer of 2015. He’s settled well in the French capital but is expected to the finish his career back in his native Argentina.
“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.”
Speculation was rife why Di Maria didn’t even come off the bench, with the official line being that the Argentine had suffered a muscular injury and while that was true, it didn’t tell the true story about what was going on behind the scenes.