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Blind Football: Meet the striker ‘panzer tank’ from Argentina

Date: November 23, 2023

Category: Blind football

Imagine a man of 30 years old, 1,68m tall, and 88 kg in weight, with a little belly visible under the jersey. Does anyone see this character as a football player? If your answer was no, you are absolutely wrong! Maximiliano Espinillo has these figures, and he is the star of the men’s Blind Football national team of Argentina.

The star, being the striker that signs most of the goals of his team, a true playmaker, pushing all his colleagues to the attack area, owner of an incredible technique, and, most of all, the strength of a panzer tank, taking everything in front of him, is very difficult to stop.

The conversation with the lovely human being Maxi Espinillo took place right after the victory over Brazil (1-0), goal scored, of course, by himself, in the Para PanAmerican Games – Santiago 2023.

“I am very happy for this victory. It is a very special match because it is El Clasico. We both already had a lot of finals together, other matches with less importance but always keeping the interest of the audience. It is special for us but also for them, I am quite sure. It is a unique match, I can tell you that!”, started to say the jersey number seven.

#Accessibility – Maxi Espinillo is celebrating a goal, with his mouth opened, shouting of joy and in run movement to the right. The photo is a vertical slide

The goal scored by Maxi against Brazil was something spectacular. A very strong shot from the 12-metre line, hitting the bar of the goal and scoring for the Argentinians. How can he manage to do something like that?

“To tell the truth, I don’t even know how the ball came to my foot. I just felt the ball in my foot, shot directly, and thought, ‘Oh God, I hope it will go in’… and it did. In these kinds of matches, the most important thing is to take advantage of all the chances we can get. 100% efficiency is what we expect. Our team played an incredible match, and now we have to recover the best we can so we can be sharp tomorrow, against Colombia, to be in the final and play for the gold”.

Argentina has a reputation to defend. The current world champion, who won the title at the 2023 IBSA World Games in Birmingham, UK, is in Chile, fighting for the continental title too.

“Of course! All the titles are important. Argentina needs to always be at the top of the podium. Sometimes it is possible, but not always. Our wishes are always playing for gold”.

Maxi Espinillo was born in the city of Cordoba on November 16th, 1993, and he currently lives in Santa Fe , Argentina, where he plays for the local club, Los Buhos (translated from Spanish as The Owls). He has been married for 17 years to Victoria, who is from Santa Fe.

“She is the strongest pilar in my life, along with the rest of my family. I used to play with her name, like, ‘Always for Victoria, let’s go for the victory!’ [laughs]. My club and my team are also very important to me. We have training sessions every day, and without my coach and technical staff, the physical trainer that follows me at the academy, I wouldn’t be the person that I am today. There are a lot of people in the backstage area whose names never appear in the spotlight but are essential to my work”.

He also played in the Brazilian Blind Football League in 2021 at ISMAC, Instituto Sul Matogrossense para Cegos Florivaldo Vargas, from Mato Grosso do Sul, with Daniel Iturria, also an Argentinian player. “I loved to play there. They have a very high-quality league, and it was good for my career to play there. I am very happy with my career, but especially to represent my country at this level”.

His weight is a no-tabu subject, which is wonderful because he is very aware of his limits and capabilities. “I love to eat [laughs again]. especially barbecue with Argentinian meat. And chocolate! Maybe that is what gives me the strength [more laughs]! I am most appreciative of the hard work that we do in our team”.

#Accessibility – Maxi Espinillo has a referee checking his eyeshades and it visible the little belly under the jersey, something that it has no interference with his style and less with his performance!

Being the World Champion, Argentina is already qualified for Paris 2024. So, what does Maxi expect for the next Paralympic Games? “Well, the only thing I hope is that we can be in the final and get the Paralympic gold back home. It was denied on our last chance, but I hope this time is for good. For me, it doesn’t matter if it will be as a player or as a spectator; I just want to be there in the moment we get that gold for us!”

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