Lionel Messi: The lion on the pitch


Lionel Messi does not see himself as an appendage or a footnote in football history. In interviews, he often empahasised that, to him, it is more of a team than himself. His cool demeanour has won him many hearts and praise including Sepp Blatter, who occupies the administrative echelon of world football. On his way up the pinnacle of world football, he has broken records previously held by some stellar names who have illuminated stadiums and etched their name in football folklore.

Nicknamed ?La Pulga? or ?the flea? because of his diminutive stature, he lights up games with his superb passing, remarkable dribbles, prolific goals, all while married to a nonchalant action style. Messi is the first football player in history to win four FIFA Ballon d?Or, all of which he won consecutively, as well as the first to win three European Golden Shoe awards. With Barcelona, he has won 6 La Ligas, 2 Copas del Rey, 5 Super Copas, 3 UEFA Champions league, 2 UEFA super cup and 2 club world cups. The road to glory was not rosy for the little Argentine as at age 11, he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. These were the days Messi virtually had to live with the faith of a prophet and nerves of steel to survive.

Lionel Messi in Barcelona academy
Lionel Messi in Barcelona academy (Credit: H1N)

Born in Rosario, Santa Fe province, to parents Jorge Horacio Messi and Cilia Maria Cuccittini, he started his play?for?pay career with local clubs Grandoli and Newell Old Boys before he was spotted by Carles Rexach, a scout of Barcelona who facilitated his move to the European powerhouse. At Barcelona, Messi has carved a niche for himself. He has received a lot of plaudits from coaches, players and commentators as the greatest footballer of all time. Italian coach, Fabio Capello once stated, ?In my entire life, I have never seen a player of such quality and personality at such a young age, particularly wearing the heavy shirt of one of the world?s great clubs?. He is currently Barcelona?s all-time top scorer in all official club competitions.

Messi and Fabregas
Messi and Fabregas (Credit: Barcabolg)

Compared to compatriot Diego Maradona due to their similar playing style and stature, which gives him a lower centre of gravity than most players allowing him to be more agile and change direction more quickly, helping him to evade tackles. Messi plays a free attacking and occasionally a playmaking role. He is comfortable, attacking on either wing or through the centre of the pitch. Dominantly a left footed player, his short legs allow him to excel in short bursts of acceleration and his quick feet allow him to keep control of the ball when dribbling at speed.

As the skipper of the Argentine senior Men?s football team, Messi is faced with a daunting task to ensure that Argentina wins the World cup, a feat they last achieved in 1986. He made his full international debut on 17 August 2005 against Hungary as an 18 year old and scored his first goal in a friendly match against Croatia on 1 March 2006.

Messi is sent off in Argentina senior debut versus Hungary in 2005
Messi is sent off in his Argentina senior debut versus Hungary in 2005 (Credit: The Guardian)

Messi has had a difficult season with club Barcelona due to injuries and a new coach. With the World Cup fast approaching, He needs to play above himself to realise his dream of winning the trophy he so desires to win and also write his name in the history books. But the question is, has the mesmerising, merciless Messi the wherewithal to win it for Argentina? The world awaits.


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