Un día como hoy, 14 de marzo, pero de 2008, se nos fue un grande que no tuvo mucha repercusión en los medios de comunicación masivos. Esta persona se llamaba Francisco y lo apodaban «Francis», como diminutivo de su nombre. Francis Cornejo fue el descubridor de un tal Diego Armando Maradona, pero lejos de salvarse económicamente, terminó sus días en la máxima pobreza posible.

«Jamás tuve coche, ni bicicleta, ni nada. Sigo siendo pobre y descubrí al mejor de todos los tiempos», señaló tiempo antes de su fallecimiento al diario deportivo Olé. Sin embargo, siempre recalcó que se sintió rico al haber «pintado el cuadro más lindo de todos», en obvia referencia al astro del fútbol mundial.

En el documental «Amando a Maradona«, Francis se encargó de aclarar cómo fue que lo descubrió: «Lo trajo Goyo Carrizo, que era amigo suyo. A mí me impactó, pensé que era un enano. Tiempo antes me dijo Goyo que tenía un amigo que era mejor que él y yo no lo creía, así que lo trajo. Tuve la suerte que me cayó a mí, pero le podía haber caído a cualquiera». Se lo notaba humilde en cada palabra. Esa es la palabra justa: humildad. Nunca se creyó más que nadie, a pesar de que había descubierto que eso que relucía en los zapatos del «enano», como bien lo llamó él, era oro en polvo. «Ni el tipo que me tenga más odio puede decir que soy interesado. Tengo necesidades como todos, pero Diego ya me pagó: me dejó verlo jugar». La admiración del maestro al alumno emocionaba al más frío de los hombres.

¿Quién hubiese pensado que ese señor serio iba a ser el primero en mentir sobre la edad de Diego? Pocos imaginaban algo así. Pero ocurrió: con documento en mano, en un partido de chicos de 14 años, el partido estaba trabado e iba 1-1. Sacó al enganche del banco y lo mandó con apenas 11 años. Pelusa hizo de las suyas: dos golazos.

Diego en sus primeros pasos, acompañado por Francis

Pero no fue la única vez: en un partido ante Boca, también mintió. Ya se hablaba de «Maradona», y por eso le cambió el nombre: «Montanya«. Resulta que perdían 3-0 y lo mandó a la cancha: sí, Diego hizo dos goles, y en el festejo del tercero a un chico se le escapó un «grande, Diego», y se armó. El técnico rival encaró enfurecido a Francis al grito de «¡me pusiste a Maradona, caradura!».

Los Cebollitas estuvieron invictos durante ¡136 partidos! Poco para acotar. «Daba gusto verlos jugar», decía Cornejo.

Con carisma de cazatalentos y descubridor nato, no solamente se dio el gusto de ser el maestro de Maradona, sino que Fernando Redondo siempre reconoció haber sido alumno suyo.

con-cornejo-iiVivió durante su último tiempo en un departamento alquilado en el barrio de Once, que pagaba con la jubilación mínima y con lo poco que Argentinos Juniors le abonaba. Fue empleado del Banco Hipotecario y, cuando fue estafado, perdió absolutamente todo lo que tenía.

Una anécdota lo resume todo sobre su personalidad: «Un día vino un chico a probarse, y el padre me ofreció un Fiat 600 a cambio de que entre al equipo». La pregunta del periodista fue rápida: «¿Y?». «Y sabés dónde se lo tuvo que meter, ¿no?», respondió orgulloso el maestro.

Hoy, a seis años de su muerte, Francis está rodeado de otros genios. Seguramente sea el colaborador del equipo capitaneado por Garrafa Sánchez y dirigido por Pastoriza. Mientras, en la reunión de los sábados por la noche con los próceres argentinos, Sarmiento llora de emoción al ver que un maestro que no usó tizas pudo superarlo.


About Author

Estudiante de periodismo. Maradoniano y Riquelmista. "Hasta la victoria siempre". "El periodismo es el mejor oficio del mundo".

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