Manchester United star Angel di Maria has proved that not all footballers are self-obsessed prima-donnas, by lending to his support to leading global charity UNICEF, who are raising awareness to help save premature babies.
The Argentina international, who completed a £59.7 million move to Old Trafford from Real Madrid in the summer, is keen to help the charity after his own child, Mia, spent two months in hospital fighting for survival.
Di Maria draws inspiration from daughter
Mia, who turns two in April, is now a healthy child thanks to the incredible work of doctors in the incubator unit at Madrid's Monteprincipe Hospital. And her father admits the experience, while extremely tough, has made him a better person.
“My daughter’s taught me that everything is possible,” Di Maria, who celebrates his goals by making the shape of a heart with his fingers, told reporters. “She taught me that the most difficult thing is at times the easiest, that the efforts of someone can be rewarded.
“She taught me how to suffer and be able to withstand pain and be stronger. Everything she transmitted to me helped me have a spectacular season.”
Di Maria's wife reveals pain
Di Maria’s wife, Jorgelina, like her husband will never forget the pain of those agonising months of uncertainty. In a message to her daughter, she wrote: “Two months in the Intensive Care Unit. No one but your father and I know the pain it caused to see your beautiful face covered in wires and devices.
“There was nothing sadder than going home with empty arms and breasts full of pain. Tears soaked our pillow every night, I had a constant knot in my throat.”
Both Angel and Jorgelina remain eternally grateful to the work of the doctors at the Spanish hospital. They also remain friends with other parents who went through similar ordeals at the same time.
“We spent more than two months at the hospital, always with the same parents,” Di Maria explained. “The pain unites people. It makes you stronger and we had a very relationship with all the parents there.
“It was not easy but I had to fight.”
Di Maria flourishes through struggle
Indeed, Di Maria enjoyed the best season of his career last term, scoring 11 goals in 52 appearances for Real Madrid and winning the Champions League trophy for the first time in his career - producing a Man of the Match display in the final against Atletico Madrid.
Real Madrid’s bizarre decision to sell Di Maria has undoubtedly been Manchester United’s gain. The world-class South American has been outstanding in his first couple of months at Old Trafford and has already cemented his reputation as a fan favourite.