The doctor, having carried out his routine checks, told Adriana (Aguero’s mother) “this child was born con un pan debajo del brazo” – with bread under his arm, an old saying meaning the baby would bring the family luck.
Sergio Aguero is one of the top strikers in world football, but his rise to superstardom hasn’t always been smooth. Born into poverty, his stock has risen with big clubs like Independiente and Atletico Madrid on his CV and also a Premier League champion with Manchester City.
Aguero’s father Leonel Del Castillo, and his mother, Adriana Aguero, were 17 and 19 and had already had their first child and were expecting the second (Sergio Kun Aguero) when they moved 800 miles from their family homes in Tucumán to the Argentine capital. They went in search of a new life and new opportunities, but all they were immediately able to get their hands on was a plot of land owned by Aguero’s father step-brother, 50 metres from the polluted Las Viboras (the Vipers) river in the run-down Gonzalez Catan district.
Leonel, a talented footballer himself, used what little materials he could get his hands on to build the family home from scratch. The home was near a Potrero, the improvised football pitches which would shape Sergio Aguero’s entire life, and Leonel was handy enough for clubs to pay for his services during weekend tournaments.
Those games, combined with other odd jobs around the area, were just about enough to provide a basic income for the family, but those resources were soon stretched. In March of 1988, heavy storms in the Buenos Aires area caused the polluted river that ran past the makeshift Aguero-Del Castillo home to burst its banks. The family rode out an initial flood – despite knee-high water inside the house – by balancing furniture and the bed that held then-pregnant Adriana and Jessica on trestles. They were eventually evacuated when water levels reached up to a metre.
Like thousands of fellow evacuees, Leonel, Adriana, and Jessica spent two weeks sleeping on mattresses on the floor of a religious school before they were allowed to return home.
Almost as soon as life was getting back to normal, Adriana’s water broke, six and a half months into her pregnancy. The local hospital was ill-equipped to deal with such scenarios, meaning an arduous three-hour journey into Buenos Aires.
After taking two buses and a train, nurses at the Hospital Pinero informed Adriana that she should try to elongate the pregnancy for as long as possible by resting on the maternity ward. Having initially expected to stay for a matter of days, Adriana was laid up in bed for the best part of two months celebrating her 18th birthday.
Almost as soon as she was given a bed, a doctor informed her that the baby was stuck and she would be unable to give birth unless action was taken. She was informed the only alternative was to perform an episiotomy on her and to fracture her child’s collarbone. After being reassured the baby would suffer no lasting damage, she decided to go with the latter, considerably more painful, approach.
The boy’s early years are full of coincidences and quirks of fate which made a career at the top level seem inevitable. Aguero while growing up accompanied Leonel to his matches.
Aguero on his childhood “there was a football pitch out the front, and since I was five years old, every day I would be out there playing with the ball,” Indeed, it was at around five years old that Sergio started playing football for money, just like his father. Although the prize pot amounted to just one peso, the youngster soon realized he was good enough to take the lot, either by scoring the necessary eight goals or by beating older boys in penalty competitions thanks to his already powerful shot.
And it was while he was with Leonel at tournaments on the Potrero that he first secured opportunities to join a club, he was spotted by youth scouts and signed up.
“My father made a lot of sacrifices,” Aguero says. “I was only six or seven years old and he dedicated himself to taking me to the clubs and different areas until I went to Independiente at the age of eight.” Sergio quickly made a name for himself around some of the most prestigious youth leagues and competitions in Argentina.
The family was already benefiting from their first son’s talents; in exchange for 100% of Sergio’s economic rights for the next 10 years, the Aguero-Del Castillo got an improved house, got Sergio into a private school, supplied clothes and food and provided regular monthly payments.
Not that he admits to ever allowing himself to dream too big: “I just thought about playing football. I would watch TV and see Primera teams and the only thing I said was ‘I want to be there’. Nothing more. I didn’t think about Europe, about any big club. I could never imagine it, I just wanted to play and make it as a team in the Argentine Primera Division.”
As 30years old Aguero got his 11th hattrick in the Premier League since joining Manchester City from Atletico Madrid in 2011. On joining City, “I’m very happy at the city, very happy since the day I came, I knew that the project was good and in my head, there is nothing else but Manchester City, so how long I’m going to be at the city is just never a question”. I like tricks, I like to dazzle. Dribbling and leaving your opponent on his backside is what life is for. If I achieve what I want to, then I’ll mark a distinct era in football. I’m the Che Guevara of modern soccer. “Maradona made some ‘noise’ in his day and I want to roar a bit in my day, now!