By Quazi Zulquarnain Islam
In the late nineties and the early years of the new century, every single promising new player who has come out of Argentina has been commonly hailed as the “new” Diego Armando Maradona. While such comparisons are cantado(inevitable) as they say in Argentina, the one player who bears a striking resemblance to the erstwhile superstar is none other than Lionel Messi.
A small, wiry player with panoramic vision, deft touches and a sublime left foot with the ability to glide past players, Messi is fast developing into footballs next biggest star. His telepathic understanding with Brazilian compatriot Ronaldinho in Barcelona have made the Catalans the most feared team in Europe. Like Maradona before him, Messi too is expected to set the world alight in next years World Cup in Germany.
Lionel Messi started playing football at a very early age in his hometown's Newell's Old Boys but moved to Barcelona with his family at the tender age of eleven. There he gave a trial for European powerhouses Barcelona. He excelled at the trial and rapidly found himself starting for the Barcelona B team, averaging more than a goal per game.
He made his Barcelona debut in the local derby against Espanyol and became the third youngest player to represent the club, aged 17 years, three months and 23 days. But he announced himself in his first Champions League start against Shakhtar Donetsk and then in the league match against Albacete where he scored with an outstanding chip a minute after coming on as a substitute.
In June of this year he signed a five-year contract with a €150m buy-out clause.
An Argentina youth player from 2004 (after turning down the chance to play for Spain), he excelled at the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship in the Netherlands, ending as the six-goal leading scorer of which two, both penalties, came in the 2-1 final win against Nigeria. In August 2005 he made his senior debut against Hungary, impressing with his skills for fully 90 seconds after his 63rd-minute introduction before being sent off for felling a marker.
Did you know?
- Messi's parents moved to Barcelona to treat a hormonal deficiency that was too expensive to treat in Argentina.