He stood out as a footballer and founded the pizzeria that became Maradona’s bunker in Barcelona: the myths surrounding his nightlife

Vallejos, the former Atlanta striker who put a pizzeria in Barcelona and became friends with Maradona

Just in 1982, when he had been retired from football for four years, Jorge “Chino” Vallejos had the idea of ​​opening a pizzeria in the upper area of ​​Barcelona, ​​near where he lived Diego Maradona, who had just arrived from Argentina to join the Catalan club, and at the exact moment in which the World Cup in Spain began, with the selection of Cesar Luis Menotti playing the opening match there.

Vallejos, a nine from Atlanta who went to play in Greece in 1972, He became friends not only with Maradona but with his entire family, with Menotti, his technical director also at Barcelona, ​​and with Joan Manuel Serrat. And he told Infobae Juicy anecdotes from that time of bohemia, and long nights of music and soccer gatherings, and even how was the experience of having been invited to the wedding of Diez in Luna Park and having shared the charter plane from Europe with the most famous people in the world .

-His pizzeria “Corrientes 348″ became a kind of nerve center of the night…

-Hahaha, yes, something like that. It is that I inaugurated it in 1982, the year of the World Cup in Spain, to which the Argentine team arrived as world champions, and it had to play some games in Barcelona and Diego Maradona also settled down to play later in the Barcelona Football Club . Later César Luis Menotti joined and the place ended up being a welcome for bohemians, musicians and even Argentine dentists, who came in droves at that time.

-How exactly did your connection with Maradona take place?

-A journalist friend asked me for permission to interview him at the pizzeria and there when he came we became friends. I already knew him because when he played in Atlanta in Buenos Aires and we faced Argentinos Juniors as visitors, I noticed that at halftime people did not come down, as was customary at that time, to have their coffee or their drink, but stayed in the stands, and it was because in those 15 minutes they saw in disbelief Diego’s juggling with the ball when he was at Los Cebollitas. He attracted attention. In other words, after that interview, Diego began to celebrate his birthday and those of his family and friends in my pizzeria, also those of Menotti and his entire group. Think that Diego was also there a lot during the time he couldn’t play.

Jorge Vallejos and Maradona
Jorge Vallejos and Maradona

I would have more time there…

-Of course, because he was unemployed a lot due to hepatitis and that tremendous injury to (Andoni) Goicoetxea and he came a lot to the pizzeria. It was a time of many meetings, meals, movies. And yet, they narrowly lost both Spanish leagues and won a Copa del Rey. Diego liked the ham and bell pepper pizza. He also came with anchovies, but I took them out because he knew he didn’t like them.

-When Maradona went to Naples, did you keep in touch?

-Of course, Diego invited me to the presentation as a Napoli player and to his wedding. I got on the charter plane in Madrid with Jorge Valdano, Alfredo Di Stéfano, and players from the Spanish team like Antonio Camacho, Juanito, Rafael Gordillo, Marcos Alonso, the father of the Chelsea player, and the entire Napoli squad was there.

-You must have many memories of that marriage…

– It was very special, unique. At my table were Valdano and Di Stéfano with their wives. They were all dancing and suddenly, a boy passed in front of Diego and he called him and asked him who he was and on whose behalf he was coming to the wedding, and promised him that he was going to stay at the party but to tell him the truth… And It was a mess (laughs). I also saw at the entrance, because I arrived early, that a person was arguing because they wouldn’t let her in. It turned out that he was a decorator that Diego had hired to surprise Claudia and the guy gave an interview to a media outlet and told what he had to do a week after being hired… There were two thousand people and, Both days, we had to return to Europe so we came back and since I had a ticket to Buenos Aires, I traveled again with my eight-month-old daughter. I remember those charters of absolute revelry. They invited me to a barbecue at La Rural, crazy in those days.

-Many things were said about those times of Maradona in Barcelona: that he did not lead an orderly life, that his problems with drugs began there.

-Look, I’m going to tell you the truth, which is not the truth that many want to hear, but I was close to Diego at that time. He started to go off the rails in Naples, but in Barcelona, ​​I can assure you, he didn’t even know what alcohol was.. The only thing she drank was Coca and Fanta. Around here, a documentary was recently made about his years here and they didn’t ask me why I was going to say what I told him and that doesn’t matter if it is said. Sell ​​more the problem, the mess. It was like she was bursting the night at “Up & Down”, the fashionable nightclub at that time. What do you want a 22 year old to do? And I tell him that a whole group of people went and he went home at half past one in the morning and of course, we stayed much longer and sometimes it even happened that we didn’t see Diego anymore and we asked where he was and that’s it. he was gone, and then you read something completely different in the papers.

Jorge Vallejos, with Diego, Claudia Villafañe and the "clan"as they baptized the group that accompanied Pelusa in Barcelona
Jorge Vallejos, with Diego, Claudia Villafañe and the “clan”, as they baptized the group that accompanied Pelusa in Barcelona

-It was even said that the one who got him into drugs was Julio Alberto, that side from Barcelona…

– Is not true. Julio Alberto had another kind of much more serious problems and took refuge in much more delicate issues. The most incredible thing was that even Argentine journalists came to say that Maradona had a venereal disease, which was not hepatitis, something ridiculous.

-There was also talk of the “Clan” Maradona…

-Look, the clan was a group of six. They didn’t bother anyone. They took care of him. They didn’t hurt. Maradona was an exceptional person but then, in Naples, things changed.

Did they lose contact there?

-No, we were always in contact and even he kept coming to the pizzeria from time to time, although now more isolated, but even his brother Hugo, “El Turquito”, who unfortunately also passed away, was about to come to Barcelona and I had told him ordered some delicatessen, some empanadas, when he died and could not travel. Very recently I was in Buenos Aires with the younger sister, Claudia, and I was surprised by the way of life they have, very humble, they didn’t keep anything. I imagined they lived better.

-The death of Maradona must have affected him a lot.

A very big pain. She was very lonely. It had a very sad ending. Recently, Movistar Plus He made a documentary about Diego but I only wanted to talk about football. He loved the ball and soccer. I remember many photos with him and other former players, but especially one in which we are with Carlos García Cambón (unfortunately now deceased), Ángel Marcos, Rubén Cano…

-You were a footballer…

– Yes, I was from the Villa Crespo neighborhood and I entered the Lower Divisions of Atlanta from a very young age, about eight or ten, but a technical director came, Aráoz, who made me a nine because I stood out well, although it was not my position . On top of that, Cano made his debut right away and in that match he scored three goals against Quilmes and I started losing place, although we made a great friendship with him and he went to play for Atlético Madrid and the Spanish team, and in 1972 I had the chance to go to Greece. and I didn’t doubt it. I went to Larisa together with my two companions Horacio Morales and Daniel Gil, both of whom are deceased, although their families continue to live there and I usually visit them whenever I can. I speak Greek and I dance to its music.

"path" is the name of the restaurant in which Vallejos currently has a stake
“Caminito” is the name of the restaurant in which Vallejos currently has a stake

– If he left Atlanta in 1972, he lost the great team led by Néstor “Pipo” Rossi in 1973 with Aldo “Pichón” Rodríguez, Alejandro Onnis, Jorge Ribolzi, Héctor “Gorrión” López, Juan Gómez Voglino, Cano…

– Yes! I just left and the best came with the kids of that time. There the team exploded. I had to dance with the ugliest (laughs). But I was in Buenos Aires between March and April with many former teammates like Baby (Osvaldo) Cortés, with fans, other former players, partners, and in a restaurant that the club has that is very nice now. I had a great time. In Atlanta I got to know amazing people like the basketball coach, León Najnudel.

-And how did you end up in Barcelona?

-I was passing through the city and I stayed to watch a Barcelona-Zaragoza match, and my friend Juan Carlos “Milonguita” Heredia, who played for Barcelona, ​​told me why I didn’t stay for a barbecue, I told him I didn’t want miss the plane He invited me, I stayed, I missed the plane and I didn’t go anymore (laughs), and I tried out in San Andrés, which was in Second Division, and I stayed there until I retired young, at 28, due to various ailments , jerks Before, everything was fixed with injections until they decalcified my hip.

-And there he installed the pizzeria…

– Yes, but the first one was very small, twenty square meters on Zaragoza street, with pizza and empanadas, but the bohemians were already beginning to arrive and in that small place several tango lyrics were written with poets like Horacio Amor. It was all over when the guards came late at night (laughs).

-But that pizzeria was not the one Maradona went to…

-No, that one came right in 1982, “Corrientes 348″, in an upper area of ​​Barcelona, ​​on Mandri street and Ronda General Mitre. Everyone used to come there, from Serrat to a charanguista. He was always full and even at any time, and already in the World Cup it was crazy…

-Count, count…

– Well, in fact, I left my house to Pata Villanueva and the then wife of Mario Kempes, Maby Moll Martínez, and I went to a friend’s house. Ivo Pitanguy, the Brazilian who was dedicated to cosmetic surgery, came to the pizzeria, along with his brother. I have a thousand anecdotes, some with Serrat. When I got married, I wanted to surprise my wife and I called her secretary to ask for tickets for the recital and she asked me when I wanted to go, if I wanted to go that same day… I said yes and she told me that when I left, Joan Manuel He was waiting for me in the dressing room to greet me. When my wife, who is Catalan, saw Serrat, she almost fainted. Joan Manuel is a fan of tango. At Menotti’s birthday celebration he was playing a famous guitarist, “Rabito” and suddenly, Serrat stopped, asked permission to sing and stayed until seven in the morning with tangos by the old men. The guitarist from Tucuman was raising his elbow because he was drinking between songs, but he was getting into tune with the music too (laughs).

-But now he no longer has the pizzeria…

– No, after the departure of Maradona and Menotti from Barcelona, ​​everything changed. I also put up another one called “Távola” on Nicaragua Street and Travessera de Les Corts, which was there for twenty years, and in which I put all the paintings from “Corrientes 348″.

-And what happened next?

-A lot of paratroopers and bad stories came and I didn’t follow anymore. I reinstalled “Corrientes 348″ but after a short time I transferred the premises and now I am helping a friend set up the restaurant “Caminito” in Formentera. He also had “Asar”, where tennis players like Rafa Nadal and others went. I make him empanadas salteñas.

-At least you don’t miss the pizza in Buenos Aires because it goes often.

-Yes, on my last trip I got into “Las Cuartetas” and, suddenly, I saw myself in a photo of Atlanta. So I told the person sitting at the table facing the painting to please take a picture of me with the poster in the background. I couldn’t miss it.

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