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Ángel Di María: The making of the Paris forward

The Paris Saint-Germain star on the key moments of his career.

Ángel Di María celebrates finding the net for Paris
Ángel Di María celebrates finding the net for Paris Getty Images

Ángel Di María is the latest prominent figure to feature in our look back at some of our most revealing interviews of the season so far. He spoke to UEFA.com in October about his footballing origins in Argentina, some of his most memorable moments and Paris Saint-Germain's ambitions.

Watch on UEFA.tv: Ángel Di María on his best goals

UEFA.com: Can you tell us a bit about your bicycle, Graciela. What does it mean to you when you remember it now?

A mural depicting Ángel Di María in his native Rosario
A mural depicting Ángel Di María in his native Rosario AFP via Getty Images

Ángel Di María: The bicycle was something I really treasured. It was something from my beginnings, when I first started to play and when I started to think about playing football. I think it was something really special for me. It will always be with me in every match and every final I play.

Does it represent commitment?

Yes, I think it's something special, it's something unique. It represents all the opportunities my mum gave me by taking me to training sessions on the bike. She was always with me and went everywhere with that bike. It's something I remember every time I play. I try to do the best I can because of all she sacrificed.

What was it like to be a young footballer in Argentina?

Difficult. Honestly, it was difficult. Argentinian football, even in the first division, can be difficult. Sometimes you might not have enough money to get to training, or to do very much at all. A lot of players fall by the wayside because of that.

They're not able to get to training or they can't buy themselves football boots. It's very hard. So, when you get that opportunity, you have to be able to make the most of it. There are a lot of players who have come through, and there are a lot of players who haven't been able to make it.

For that reason, how important was it for you to go to Benfica?

Di María during his Benfica days
Di María during his Benfica daysAFP via Getty Images

Benfica were very important for me and my family. It was a really big step after only a year and a half playing for Rosario Central. I think that coming to Europe to such a big club like Benfica gave me everything. It was like my first home and it gave me so much to keep on winning and to be who I am today.

I want to ask you about the rabona you scored for Benfica against AEK Athens in 2009. Was that a very Argentinian goal?

Yes, well, let's say it's from South America. All of that comes from South American players, more than anyone. The truth is I've only scored one rabona goal; that's my only rabona. And, honestly, it's not easy! I've only scored one and it was very nice because it was against a big team, and I scored it for Benfica, my first team in Europe.

Is it true that you prefer to score like that because you are more confident with your left foot?

Yes. When I have the choice between using my right or left foot, I prefer to be creative and find any way I can to take it on my left foot.

The goal you scored for Real Madrid against Tottenham in 2011 was a shot from distance. Is that something you work on specifically, or has that always been one of your gifts?

Ángel Di María enjoys his memorable goal against Spurs
Ángel Di María enjoys his memorable goal against SpursGetty Images

No. The goal in that match was a very nice goal and it was an important goal because it was in the Champions League as well. But no, I think we've practised and trained to shoot from outside the area at every club I've played for: accuracy, all of that sort of thing. Year in, year out, you keep improving and gaining in confidence to shoot from distance, and thankfully I've scored lots of goals from distance and I hope I can keep on scoring.

How did you develop as a player in Madrid?

Madrid was a very important step for me. To join from Benfica, it was a major step up and a lot of people at the time had criticised my signing because I was a player who hadn't had a good World Cup in 2010, before signing for Real Madrid. I hadn't done enough to justify my price tag and the club paid a lot of money for me. [José] Mourinho believed in me and, season after season, I showed I was good enough to play for Real Madrid and I had the opportunity to win the Champions League in my last season.

What was it like to win the Champions League?

Winning the Champions League is unique, it's different to any major honour. I wasn't lucky enough to win the World Cup – I was close – but I think the Champions League is very special. It's a very tough competition to win. I've played for big clubs and, playing season after season, I realised it's really tough to win it. To have won La Décima, which was so important for Real Madrid at that time, was very special for me and for everyone.

Ángel Di María after the 2014 final win with Madrid
Ángel Di María after the 2014 final win with MadridPopperfoto via Getty Images

Why did you bring a Rosario flag onto the pitch after the game?

Because the Argentinian flag was first raised in Rosario, because I'm from Rosario, because my family is from Rosario, because I'm from there, because I represent my country in Europe. But I also represent my city – where I come from, where I grew up. It's where I spent my whole childhood and where I learned to play football to get to where I am today. I think it was very special, and I still have that flag and I continue to bring it everywhere with me.

Can you explain Paris Saint-Germain's ambitions?

To win everything. From the day I arrived, I realised Paris want to win everything. From the first match to the last, the club want to win every competition, every match. They always want to be top dog in every competition.

The club have a big ambition. So, to get to this club and to be at this club, you have to have that same ambition. I've always won titles since I arrived. I've had the chance to play in every competition, and I think I've won it all here except the Champions League, and let's hope I can win that before I leave.