Glancing at Lionel Messi’s list of achievements and you’ll soon find yourself staring at the screen in disbelief. The amount of trophies and personal achievements he has racked up is truly astounding.
His medal haul so far stands at 5 La Liga titles, 1 Copa Del Rey, 3 Champions Leagues, 2 Super Cups, a Fifa World Club Championship, a U-20 World Cup and an Olympic Gold medal. His award list reads as – well – a lot. Lionel Messi is rightly lauded for his talent and 67 individual honours attests to the undeniable fact that he is something special.
…when one door closes, another opens…
Born in Rosario, Santa Fe in 1987, Messi started playing football at the age of five for his local club Grandoli, managed by his father Jorge Messi. In 1995 he moved to Newel Old Boys, a club that has become famous in Latin America for nurturing young talent and counts Gabriel Batistuta, Gabriel Heinze and Maxi Rodriguez as their former players. Always small in stature, it was during this time where it was discovered that Messi had a growth hormone deficiency. This led to River Plate, another popular Argentinean club, withdrawing their interest in him as to pay for his treatment would cost $900 a month. However, when one door closes, another opens.
Barcelona came sniffing around and after a trial offered Messi a place at their youth academy with a contract signed on a napkin. The agreement was that Barcelona would pay for his medical treatment, so long as he was willing to move to Spain. He did and the rest, as they say, is history.
…he would capture a wider gaze…
Messi’s prodigious talent could be spotted in the various Barcelona youth set-up where he racked up an impressive 37 goals in 30 games for one particular youth team. In 2004, Messi made his first team league debut under Frank Rikjaard. After emerging through the youth teams (with Gerard Pique and Cesc Fabregas as friends, both of whom would go on to play in England before returning back to Catalonia), it was in the team of Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto’o, Henrik Larsson and Deco that he would capture a wider gaze.
Playing in such a star studded aided his development and becoming the youngest ever scorer at the club. He was heralded as the new Maradona, his trademark darts, surge of pace and excellent ball control meant that scoring goals like Maradona’s against England in the 1986 World Cup weren’t figments of imagination but a very real possibility. Time after time Messi made his opponents look silly, or at the very best dazed, with no answer to his supreme skill.
…he always manages to hit the target…
He missed the Champions League Final against Arsenal but has gone on to play in two more, both against Manchester United, scoring decisive goals on each occasion. Rarely does he seem to have a poor game and, as he showed in this week’s resumption of European football, he always manages to hit the target.
If it hasn’t already become a familiar sight in football then it won’t be very long till we see Messi wheeling away from yet another scene of devastation that’s left opposition players on the floor or facing the wrong way. Injury permitting, it will happen with a very regular occurrence this season.
Images courtesy of Lionel Messi