Omens look good for hot-shot Aguero
As he flicks through the Aston Martin brochure in his new Cheshire home, Sergio Aguero could not be further from the 10-year-old boy who "escaped death" after football saved him from the guns of the Buenos Aires barrio and set him on course for Premier League stardom at Manchester City.
Aguero (also the Spanish word for 'omen') heralded his £35m arrival at Eastlands with a stunning two-goal cameo on Monday as he embellished a 4-0 victory against Swansea City with one of the most memorable debuts witnessed in the Premier League era.
Yet the 23-year-old, already settled in a house with wife Giannina and son Benjamin secured by City's player liaison officer, less than three weeks after his arrival from Atletico Madrid, can point to the same turbulent upbringing in Argentina that has also shaped the characters of Eastlands team-mate Carlos Tevez and Diego Maradona, the Argentinian icon who just happens to be Aguero's father-in-law.
Raised in Quilmes, a sprawling town on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Aguero was plucked from the villas miseria by the scouts of Independiente, Argentina's third-largest club, as a 10-year-old prodigy who ultimately broke Maradona's record by becoming the youngest player to appear in the country's top flight as a 15-year-old.
His is truly a rags-to-riches story, but Aguero knows only too well that he could have fallen victim to the gun culture which was rife in Quilmes had he not been handed an escape route by his football talents.
"It was a complicated place and a humble area where ugly things happened," he recalled. "There were always shots being fired there, but that is where I lived and there wasn't anything I could do about it.
"It was the sort of place where there would be a shot, you'd be sitting there and you'd have to run, because they're going to kill you.
"It was tough. You could also say that when you have been there and you now play football in Europe, you are determined to enjoy it more, because you have escaped death. I remember when I used to play in that environment and it makes me enjoy what I am doing more. I'm in a good place now and can experience a lot of things that I was not able to when I was a kid."
The youngest of seven brothers, Aguero spent his childhood days playing football with his siblings before turning out for five different teams across Buenos Aires every Saturday.
"At the age of 12, I would spend the day crossing Buenos Aires," he said.
"At noon, I'd play the first game, the
next one would be at 3.30, and then there'd be a game at five, another at 6.15 and the last one at 8.0."
Aguero added: "I couldn't live without a ball. I played for the love of the game. I was born to gamebetear (dribble). It's dribbling that gives me life!"
Learning the game as a street footballer, among players older and bigger than himself, Aguero developed a reputation as a fearless, tempestuous goalscorer and he insists he is ready for the physical challenge that will come with playing in England.
"Players in England are bigger," he said. "In Argentina, you dribbled and you got away. In Europe, the defenders are beasts. You beat one and there's another on top of you. Against Real Madrid in my first season (with Atletico), Fabio Cannavaro booted me about, but that's life. If I get hit, what am I going to say? If they hit you, you take it.
"And if I score goals in the air, it's because I've got a hard head and I don't mind getting in there. My style has always been to fight to the death for every ball and give 100pc for every game. I'm not a player who can do everything, but I have plenty to offer."
Away from the pitch, Aguero, who runs a motor racing team in Argentina, insists he has simple pleasures.
"I love Aston Martin," he admitted. "But when it comes to food, Argentinian barbecue is my favourite and (Pablo) Zabaleta has told me that he'll show me where I can get some great Argentinian meat in Manchester.
"Music-wise I like a bit of everything really, but my favourite is Argentinian Cumbia music. I just have a normal life. I try and play with my son every day and, in my spare time, I go on the PlayStation, go walking and there's a car racing team back home that I like to watch." (© Daily Telegraph, London)