Antoine Griezmann: The Frenchman with a soft spot for South America

Antoine Griezmann is not from Argentina, but maybe he would like to be.

According to Diario Olé in Argentina, Griezmann’s favourite team is Boca Juniors, who he went to watch play in the Copa Libertadores 2018 final against arch-rivals River Plate.

That day Griezmann was wearing a Boca shirt for South America’s biggest match at the Santiago Bernabéu.

Griezmann can often be seen going to training and matches with a mate in hand, a hugely popular caffeine-rich infused drink in Argentina and other parts of South America.

It was Carlos Bueno, former Boca and San Lorenzo striker, who invited Griezmann for the first time to drink mate when the pair played together at Real Sociedad.

Bueno met Griezmann when he was just 17 years old and was promoted to Real Sociedad’s first team under the management of Martín Lasarte. And although it is hard for him to admit it, he was a very important person for the former world champion’s development as a player and as a person.

“He made a disgusted face but later told me that it [mate] wasn’t so bad. That same afternoon we went to a square and he asked me for another one. That’s how it all started,” recalled the Uruguayan, a fan of Peñarol, a club for which Griezmann also has time for.

“We experienced a lot of nice things together. He was in the process of growing as a footballer and also starting to become a man. Because as I always say, in football there is no time to be a child. The day you step on a first division pitch and play, you have to mature very quickly because you don’t have time for anything. We talked a lot. He would ask me about the teams where I had played and about the players and about life. He would also ask about how we live in Uruguay. I told him that we were a very small country but very passionate about football. A country where we ate a lot of meat, a lot of asado and a lot of dulce de leche,” Bueno told Spanish outlet El País.

“I went on holiday and he asked me to bring him a thermos, mate and bombilla (metal straw). I did and he started taking mate to training, and he never stopped after that.”

Bueno also took him out to eat at an Argentine restaurant so he could try the asado. “But I explained to him that it was not the same as the one you eat in Uruguay or the one you make at home,” Bueno added.

At his current club Atlético Madrid, Griezmann has gotten to know several Argentinians and their habits, including World Cup winners Rodrigo De Paul, Nahuel Molina, and Ángel Correa. At Barcelona, he also shared a dressing room with Lionel Messi.

Kieran Quaile | GSFN

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