The Making of Messi

Sofia Cohen, Staff

The name Messi has been worn on a million backs. Lionel Messi is arguably the best soccer player of all time. Argentina’s star footballer led his team in the nail-biting final match against France to lift the FIFA World Cup 2022 trophy in Qatar. Messi was
born on June 24, 1987, in Rosario, Argentina to Jorge and Celia Messi. As a young boy, Messi would often play soccer with his older brothers. At eight years old, he was recruited to join the youth system of Newell’s Old Boys, a Rosario-based club. From an early age, Messi was noticeably smaller than most of the kids his age on his soccer team, and was eventually diag- nosed with a hormone deficiency that restricted his growth. Messi soon went on nightly growth hormone injections. However, it became impossible to pay several hundred dollars per month for the medication.

Messi always struggled with height problems. He always believed that it would prevent him from being who he dreamed of being: a great soccer player. Although to this day, Messi is still considered a shorter height, it helped him become a great soccer player. His lower center of gravity lets him dribble away from players who are much bigger and stronger than him. At the age of 13, Messi was offered the chance to train at soccer powerhouse FC Barcelona’s youth academy, and have his medical bills covered by the team. Messi’s family quickly moved to make a new home in Spain. Although it was an excellent opportunity for Messi and his family, there was one thing that made him very homesick, Antonella. Antonella Roccuzzo and Messi first met in Rosario, Argentina at the age of seven. It was thanks to one of Messi’s friends, Lucas Scaglia, that Messi and Antonella were able to meet. Lucas was Antonella’s cousin. Messi would often go over to Lucas’s house to practice soccer together. Their relationship grew stronger over the years, and they had their wedding in June 2017, when Messi was 30 years old.They soon went on to have three children together: Thiago, Mateo, and Ciro.

By the age of 16, Messi made his first appearance for FC Barcelona, putting himself in the record books on May 1, 2005, as the youngest player to ever score a goal for the franchise. That same year, he led Argentina to the title in the under-20 World Cup, scoring on a pair of penalty kicks to propel the team over Nigeria. Every team that Messi has played for has been steered to
success. Even the great Diego Maradona said, “I see him as very similar to me,” the retired player told the BBC. He says,”He’s a leader and is offering lessons in beautiful football. He has something different than any other player in the world.” Amazingly, the soccer wizard continued to improve. He won 35 trophies, including 10 La Liga titles, seven Copa del Rey titles, and four UEFA Champions Leagues. With his country, he won the 2021 Copa América and the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Not only is Messi the best of all time, but he is also a great man. He is a family man, gives a great amount to charity, and is always there for his friends. Messi especially loves his grandma, Celia. His grandmother was the one who encouraged him to play soccer and to continue playing despite his height. Ever since she sadly passed in 1998, every goal Messi makes, he points to the sky to honor his grandma. It is because of her that he continued fighting for his dreams, and it pains him now that she couldn’t see how far he’s come. He has sacrificed everything for soccer. He says, “I made sacrifices by leaving Argentina, leaving my family to start a new life. I changed my friends and my people. Everything. But everything I did, I did for football, to achieve my dream.” Messi has always been a fighter for his dreams. Now, at 35 years old, the love for him all over the world increased at this, his last World Cup. He did it for his family, his country, and for himself.

(Above) Messi points to the sky after scoring a goal to honor his grandmother. After winning, Messi said, “I knew God would bring this gift to
me. I had the feeling that this [World Cup] was the one.” Photo courtesy of Kai Pfaffenbach. (Photo courtesy of Kai Pfaffenbach.)