Cinderella of the Pampas

There are not many players that can be proud of the beginning of their career. Fresh beginnings are almost always hard. In football as for every profession.

Maximiliano Comba, 24, is one of those who actually can be proud. He scored a winner for Gimnasia La Plata against Boca Juniors in his 2nd appearance in the Superliga. A dream for almost every kid in the country.

A quick glance at his biography may lead to the assumption that this is another story of a "an athlete from a small town, that went on to fulfill his dream in the big leagues". Well, that is the case of Maxi, just that it has an interesting extra twist.

Maxi was born in the southern pampas of the Cordoba province, in a small place called La Cautiva, at one ‘pueblo’, which back in the day had less than 700 inhabitants.

He liked the country life, being a gaucho (in the modern meaning of it), riding and taming horses, riding a tractor, etc. He also played football, and was quite good at it, but he didn't enjoy it too much and preferred the horses and the rest of the country life activities. Earlier this year, he confessed that sometimes when friends came calling for him to come and play, he went hiding under the bed.

Despite the fact he wasn’t very enthused for the game, he did play for the local youth team of one of the nearest bigger towns, after being noticed while playing in the open field. He moved to a bigger club in a nearby town, when he was 12. To put things in perspective, the bigger of the two towns is populated by less than 9000 people.

A few years later he decided to quit football and work with his father at taming horses. At this point, a father of one of his teammates, who is a close friend & his football mentor, got into the picture and convinced Maxi to give football another chance. Shortly after, the youngster was playing for a local amateur club and being paid in pocket change money. Only then he decided football is what he wants to do. After an impressive spell in the regional leagues, at the age of 23, he signed for 3rd division Estudiantes de Rio Cuarto, still not too far from home, and then things got serious.

It was a big challenge for a young player who didn't train regularly before and who is pretty small physically. El Celeste did well and Comba played impressively, scoring several goals and was picked for the league’s team of the season by few media outlets. Maxi was also fortunate to take part in a historic match for the club: a couple of years after a frustrating spell in River Plate, Pablo Aimar decided he wants to play his last game with his childhood club, Maxi's club.

Interest from some 1st and 2nd division clubs was growing, mostly from the big clubs of the province but also from the Buenos Aires province. Eventually, he signed with Gimnasia La Plata, moving far away from home and leaving the gaucho way of life in the pampas for the very first time. His first performance in the Superliga wasn't good, Maxi looked overwhelmed, but the second one, against Boca, was something he will never forget.

In the end of the day, Maxi’s story is an unusual one. The kid who was hiding under the bed and skipped football games for horse riding, found himself playing alongside Aimar in a cup game in front of thousands of people and later on became a professional player. A story of a true Cinderella from the pampas.