Recognize this little cutie? No? What if I tell you that he is none-other than Argentina’s star footballer Lionel Messi. Yes you heard it right he is the one who is one of the players ruling over football world.
Most of us are fan of this guy aren’t we? But very few of us know about his childhood and his fight to the position where he is today.
It all began when a young Messi was watching a youth game of the local club Grandoli. They were a player short so coach Salvador Aparicio asked little Leo to join in.
Compared to the other players, Messi was really small in age and size but with his grandmother’s permission, he hopped onto the field. On that Sunday, he dribbled past every player on the pitch. He just couldn’t shoot because he was too small.
But that moment of magic made him a regular in the team and with that, the story of Lionel Messi began.
10-year-old Leo was diagnosed with a dormant growth hormone which was cited as the reason for his small size.
While the disease was curable, financing it was a huge problem. Newell’s initially agreed to contribute, and so did River Plate, who had been scouting Leo. But Argentina was going through an economic crisis and both the clubs could not pay for his treatment. His father only had enough to pay for one year’s worth of treatment.
In the September of 2000, through some family contacts in Catalonia, 13-year-old Messi arrived for a 15-day trial at FC Barcelona. While the first team director Charly Rexach wanted to sign him right away and even agreed to pay for his treatment, others on the board were hesitant.
Rexach remembers that a game was specially arranged so that he could see the youngster in action. Rexach reached late and walked around the ground to find a seat. Within those few minutes of half glances at the game as he looked for a place to sit, he claims he had already decided that he wanted Leo at the club.
Gerard Pique said they were asked not to tackle him because he looked small and fragile. The defender later confessed that it was a good excuse for them because it was impossible to catch that small, fragile kid.
In the December of 2000 however Barca were given an ultimatum by Messi’s father because he was getting other offers as well. He was also angry that Barcelona were not holding up their end of the bargain while his kid was proving his potential day in and day out. Plus his hormone treatment that cost about $1000 per month did not really help the cause.
Rexach had met Messi’s agents for lunch at a tennis club. He was told that Leo would leave soon and he knew it was now or never. He however did not have any paper on him at the time. So he found a napkin nearby and drew a contract. It was the 14th of December, 2000.
That was almost 16 years ago. The 13-year-old kid is a 29-year-old superstar with a slight stubble. The fragile footballer is now Argentina’s highest goal scorer. Three days from now, he will play his 3rd Copa America final. He has lost the previous two but maybe this time he will finally get the glory he deserves.
Leo is a role model for lot of footballers and is indeed a genius, but he has sweated lot to reach at this position.
No one is born talented yeah you might be gifted but you need the hard work to use as a key and to bring that out from where it is locked.