(Dark Horse Comics)
Editor's Note: The Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns FC have partnered with iconic, local comic book publisher Dark Horse Comics to create player-specific superheroes in recognition of National Superhero Day. As part of the project, comic book writer Arvid Nelson created fictionalized origin stories for each player, detailing the genesis of their individual “super-powers.
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El Maestro (Diego Valeri)
clairvoyance and magic
Quote: “The past inside the present inside the future.”
61 career goals and 56 assists for Portland. An MLS All-Star victory over Teutonic monsters FC Bayern Munich. “It’s really not fair,” says Diego Valeri with a grin. “I know everything my opponents are thinking. I know it before they know it.”
Diego traces his intuitions to a day he found himself lost in Buenos Aires and walked into a magic shop to ask for directions.
“The place looked like they hadn’t had a customer since 1973,” Diego says. “I found a fútbol amongst the top hats and false-bottomed boxes, which I thought was weird. And there was no one in the shop. So I picked the ball up, and, like a flash, I was back in my neighborhood, with the ball still in hand.” Ever since, Diego has his weird premonitions.
A few weeks after “the incident”, he saved a group of school children on a bus tour that would’ve taken them across a dangerously unstable bridge. “Everyone thought I was crazy at the time,” he says. One of the children happened to be the daughter of the head coach for Club Atlético Lanús, one of Argentina’s top soccer teams. “I got the call to try out for Lanús,” Diego says. And the rest? Well, that’s history.
“Of course I’ve tried to find the magic store again,” Diego says. “I’d settle for finding that neighborhood I got lost in, but I can’t even do that.” But he still has the soccer ball he found in the shop. “As far as I can tell… it’s just a ball,” he says.
Off the field, Diego can be seen enjoying a gourd of mate, a caffeinated drink popular in Argentina. “Mate’s going to be the next big thing in the United States,” he says. “Trust me on that. Trust me.”