The Great Men's Cross 7: Lionel Messi 4

Lionel Messi

When Messi became the all-time top goal scorer for Barcelona at the age of 24, Pep Guardiola has this to say about him, ‘I am so sorry for those that think they can compete and displace Messi from the throne; this is impossible because the kid is unique’ – Pep Guardiola.

When Javier Mascherano was interviewed by Barca’s official magazine on his opinion about Messi, he said, ‘The rest of us may/are indispensable but Messi is not. I mean the club (Barcelona) is bigger than every other player except Messi. This is just the reality and you have to accept it.
In June 2016, in the match between Argentina and Venezuela, Messi stunned everyone with his performance and won the man of the match by scoring a goal and assisting other two which made him equal the record set by Batistuta as the highest goal scorer for Argentina with 54 goals in official international matches. 

However, the record would be broken three days later when Messi scored against the host of the Copa America, the United States after a 4-0 rout. In the match he also assisted two which was enough to send them to the finals and he was named again the man of the match.  

Bastituta made some comments on Messi breaking his record and he had this to say, ‘Well, I am a little bit annoyed about Messi breaking my record. The feeling when you go around the world and people point to you as the highest goal scorer for Argentina has gone, however, I am still happy that I am just second to somebody that is extraterrestrial’.

Sad Memories
After Argentina had met Chile the previous time and lost to them at the Copa America finals, another final is set before the both of them and Argentina lost to Chile again. This makes the third consecutive loss in a major tournament for Argentina and for Messi. At the end of the match, Messi announced his retirement after a penalty loss. Juan Anotonio Pizzi, the Chilean coach then said this about Messi, ‘Well, people of my generation can’t compare Messi to Maradona because of how much Maradona did for the Argentine football. However, I think the best player ever played here today in the United States’.
On June 27, 2016, Messi announced his retirement from the Argentina national team with these emotional words, ‘I did my best, this is the fourth final, I have always wanted to win a title than anyone else but it is unfortunate it wouldn’t happen. Well, I hope this is the best for everyone and for a lot of people that want this. Argentina national team is over for me and I have made my decision’ – Lionel Messi.

Please don’t leave us
This didn’t go well with so many in Argentina especially those that want to see him in the blue and white stripes of the Argentina national team jersey. Fans were now greeting him every time they encountered him with ‘Don’t go, Leo’. Even the president of Argentina, Mauricio Macri had to intervene and appeal to Messi not to quit and told him these words,

We are very lucky, this is one of life’s pleasures and it is also a gift from God to have the world best player in a footballing country like this…Lionel Messi is just the greatest thing we have here in Argentina and we have to take care of him’. In order to further convince Messi not to quit the national team, the Mayor of Buenos Aires had to erect a statue in his honor.
The Great Return
In a little more than a week that Messi quit the national team, newspapers have started to make waves about his return; reporting that Messi was considering taking part in the next world cup. It was finally confirmed that Messi has returned to the national team and scoring the lone goal enough to win Uruguay at their first qualifying match. 

On 12 August, 2016, Messi had this to say on his return back to the national team, ‘I had a lot going through my mind that particular night we lost to Chile in the final; I had a lot of serious contentions on my mind before I gave the verdict to quit, however, the love I have for my country and this shirt is so great’ – Lionel Messi.

While Messi was suspended for four games during the qualifiers for world cup, there was a need to win their last qualifying match against Ecuador. On 10 October 2017, Messi was on fire when he secured a win and made Argentina qualify for the world cup by scoring a hat-trick against Ecuador after a one goal lead by Ecuador. This was the first time Argentina would beat Ecuador since 2001.

However, there was a poor performance from Argentina in the world cup which saw them only through the first stage but not the second stage. When Ossie Ardiles, a former Argentine player was asked about the poor performance of Argentina, he said, ‘I think this squad is the worst in the history of Argentine football. Despite having the best player in the world, they could still not create a competitive team. The team’s decline started a long time ago but was only masked by the unrivalled genius (Messi)’.
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The Secret
Almost everyone wonders why Messi could beat a lot of players with so much runs and would hardly fall even when kicked, well, this is due to his short stature that makes his centre of gravity lower than that of tall players, gives him greater agility and helps him to quickly change direction as much as evading tackles.

Despite his very short stature, he has an upper body strength which combines with his low centre of gravity with a balance that makes him physically defensive against opponents and still not accused for diving compared to a lot of play acting in football. Also, his short and strong legs allow him to accelerate in a very short time and his quick feet allows him to be able to control and retain the ball even when dribbling at high speed.

Diego Maradona says about hs dribbling and holding skills, ‘The ball just stays glued to his foot; though I have seen great players during my career but I have never seen one have the amount of ball-control Messi has’.

We won’t close Messi’s chapter without talking about his love and family life. Messi is an introverted person but has a convincing love life and loyal wife and family. Right from 2008, when Messi was 20, Messi has been dating Antonella Roccuzzo who is also from Rosario. Messi has known her since he was five years and she is the cousin to Messi’s best friend, Lucas Scaglia, a fellow professional footballer. They have three sons, Thiago (born in 2012), Mateo (born in 2015) and Mateo (born in 2018).
Messi is so close to his family that he runs all his programs with the support of his family. On his left shoulder is the tattoo of his mother’s face; Jorge, his father, has been his agent since he was 14 and his eldest brother, Rodrigo, runs his daily schedule and publicity. Also, his charity organization is being managed by his mother and other brother, Matias.

This is the end of the Messi’s story and the Cristiano Ronaldo story is to start soon. The lessons so far include;
Your beginning doesn’t matter as much as your end. The race is a long one, you alone isn’t running it, but make sure you run with might your own part of the race.

Challenges are bound to come your way. If you see them as barriers or victimizations, you won’t be able to surmount them or overcome them, but if you see them as steps to greatness, then you are bound to scale through them.
Family is important. Take note of the roles everyone plays in your life. Not everyone can be good to you. Those that support your dreams are there to guide you to your destination and those that are against it are there to train you to value and desire what you want most especially after you have it. Always know you can only achieve little yourself, but much with so many around you.  

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