Official Champions League final Man of the Match Angel Di Maria has thanked for Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti for showing faith in him earlier in the season when he was not wanted by many at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
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Di Maria's tireless running helped to eventually wear down Atletico Madrid's resistance during last Saturday's final, and his mazy dribble and shot lead directly to Gareth Bale heading in the decisive second goal in extra-time.
The Argentine winger was less popular with many Madrid fans and pundits as recently as last January, when he reacted to whistles from the crowd during a 3-0 win over Celta Vigo by apparently grabbing his crotch provocatively, leading to widespread calls for him to be sold immediately.
A subsequent club investigation cleared Di Maria of any wrongdoing. Ancelotti continued to give the former Benfica man a key midfield role in the team, and he finished the season with 27 assists in all competitions -- the most any player from Europe's top five leagues.
Marca quotes Di Maria as having told Radio La Red in Argentina that he was fortunate to have had the backing of his manager through difficult moments of the season.
"Luckily Madrid had a coach who, when things are not going well, supported me," Di Maria said.
Despite such superb performances over recent months, speculation continues over his future at the Bernabeu. Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City, Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain have all been mentioned in speculation -- with a fee of 30 to 35 million euros being put forward.
Di Maria appeared to suggest he would not necessarily be against making a move this summer.
"If [Madrid] want me or not, I will always give everything for whatever jersey I am wearing," he said.