We’ve all heard about Lionel Messi, right? You know, the 5’7” Barcelona striker from Argentina? Yeah, well he’s pretty good at soccer. Scratch that. He is out of this world good and arguably the best soccer player in the world. He’s also considered as the greatest soccer player of all time. I grew up watching him and he completely changed the game for me. He’s my favorite player and here’s why.
The 31 year old Barcelona super striker has had a number of memorable and historical moments throughout his career. At the age of 18, Messi made the starting XI for the spanish club FC Barcelona. He played in the last 16 round in the Champions League and scored his first goal in the tournament. His season ended that year with a torn hamstring but that didn’t stop him from coming back better than ever. During the 2006-2007 season, the then 19 year old Messi had stepped up his game and scored 17 goals in 36 games all competitions. Now this might not seem like a lot but there are some things to keep in mind. He had just finished recovering from his torn hamstring injury, suffered a metatarsal fracture that kept him out for several months, and he was still only 19. After recovering from his metatarsal fracture, Messi still managed to score 11 goals in his last 13 La Liga games. Messi also scored his first hat-trick against Barcelona’s biggest rivals, Real Madrid, ending the game in a 3-3 draw. Messi had also scored a goal against Spanish club Getafe that perfectly resembled Maradona’s goal against England during the 1986 FIFA World Cup quarter finals which was known as the goal of the century. The comparisons were quickly piling on and sure enough, the young striker was heading towards super stardom.
Now let’s talk about Messi’s legendary 2011-2012 campaign. The Argentinian was now 25 and lets just say he had a great year. 2012 was the year of Lionel Messi. Why you might ask? Well he did score 91 goals in 69 games. 91 GOALS IN 69 GAMES! That’s an average of one goal every 66 minutes. He was breaking records left and right like it was nothing. He shattered the long standing record of 85 goals in 60 games by the German Gerd Muller in 1972. Messi scored a record 79 goals in all competitions in a calendar year with club Barcelona, a record 73 goals in a club season, and won his 4th consecutive Ballon d’Or and was the first to do so at the time. This is by far the craziest thing any football fan has ever heard.
Every game he plays is incredible and exciting to watch, and because of him, I got into soccer. Eighth grade was the first year I played on an official team and I continue to play now. I always looked up to him and tried to mimic his every move. His playing style is the smoothest and most relaxed. He doesn’t do many flashy moves like Neymar or Ronaldo but his dribbling skills are ridiculous. Most of the time you’ll see him dribbling passed four defenders without breaking a sweat. He has the greatest vision on the pitch and is legit feared by defenders. Messi is simply unique.
One of Messi’s most memorable performances was carrying Argentina to the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Argentina was in danger of not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. Argentina is a team with great skill but have zero chemistry and an embarrassing defence. On the 10th of October, 2017, Argentina played a World Cup qualification match against Ecuador and a loss was not acceptable. Forty seconds into the match, Ecuador’s Romario Ibarra puts it in the net making the score 1-0 and putting Argentina’s World Cup dreams in jeopardy. I remember watching the game during a timed online statics quiz in my dorm room just thinking to myself “wow, Argentina really isn’t going through, and I’m going to fail this quiz.” I knew Argentina wasn’t going to lose just like that. There was a whole 89 minutes left to play so I was still pretty optimistic. About 10 minutes later, Messi scores to tie the game. About another 10 more minutes… BOOM! Another goal by Messi, but that wasn’t the end of it. 17 minutes into the second half, Messi finds the net for the third time scoring a hat-trick to secure Argentina’s World Cup spot in 2018. It was just insane! I can’t think of any other football player who could change an entire game just like that. He was unstoppable that night. It was magic.
Before I log off, let me just mention a couple of Messi’s most recent accomplishments. In 2015, he won his fifth Ballon d’Or and was the first player to win five. He was top scorer in La Liga for the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 season. He had the most assists in La Liga for the 2015-2016 and 2017-2018 season. He won La Liga with Barcelona in the 2014-2015, 2015-2016, and 2017-2018 season. He won the Copa del Rey for the past four seasons from 2014-2018. He was also selected as Barcelona’s first captain after Andres Iniesta’s departure. The list goes on and on but I think I’ll stop it right here. Messi is an absolute monster on the field. He’s a perfect example of what a player should be and a great role model. He’s the G.O.A.T. He’s a magician. He’s my favorite player.
Follow Kennedy on Twitter @kennedy23_