Lionel Messi is celebrating his 29th birthday today. On Sunday at 8 p.m., he and the rest of Team Argentina will battle Team Chile for the Copa America Centenario championship at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. Meanwhile, birthday greetings for Leo Messi are still raining down on Facebook with no sign of abating. But the best birthday greeting for the reigning king of soccer actually came two days earlier, on Tuesday night.
As Argentina routed the U.S. team at Houston’s NRG Stadium on June 21, a fan braved arrest and a night in jail as he professed his undying love for the master of soccer in front of over 70,000 people. Michael Soto, a 17-year-old from San Diego, California, walked away from the stadium escorted by cops with nothing but a signed No. 10 jersey and a hug from Messi.
— The Source Magazine (@TheSource) June 22, 2016
To Soto, however, it was all worth it, according to ABC 7 Chicago. The die-hard fan said the following.
“I got to meet the greatest footballer in the world. I got my shirt signed and I got to hug him. For me, that’s everything.”
The word lion is inscribed in Lionel Messi’s name, but when somebody kneels in front of him to profess his undying adulation, Messi’s lion heart simply melts. What is it with this “lion” that commands the adulation of millions of people around the world?
The Messi cult is the direct result of his unparalleled achievement in the field of soccer. So great is Leo Messi’s combined achievement that Albiceleste goalkeeper Sergio Romero believes that the birthday boy has nothing left to prove. In short, soccer seems to have ran out of titles to bestow on Leo Messi.
ESPN FC summarizes Lionel Messi’s achievements as follows.
“Messi…has played 531 senior games and scored 453 goals while winning four Ballon d’Or awards and 28 trophies with Barcelona including four Champions Leagues and eight La Liga titles.”
The Soccer Kick of the Century
For someone to amass such an astronomical soccer record at the age of 29 is just mind blowing. And so is the soccer kick that Leo Messi is now known for all over the world. Here is what Romero has to say about it.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 22, 2016
“It was impossible [to save]. I watched it back many times. He put it right in the angle, in the smallest space. But watching Messi, everything he does is impossible.”
It’s no black magic for sure. So, how does an athlete that stands barely five-foot and seven-inches tall accomplish this? When he was a boy, Leo Messi was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. Now, on his 29th birthday, we can summarize Messi’s secrets of success as follows.
- Find your true love and stick with her
- Be successful with your family first and stay close to it — in your family, you will find strength
- There’s no need to be as bold or as loud as Cristiano Ronaldo
- Just keep a low profile and always be humble no matter what Diego Maradona says about having “no personality”
- Turn every disadvantage into an advantage
Lucky man Lionel Messi found his true love early in life. In fact, he and Antonella Roccuzzo have known each other since they were 5-years-old.
Someone sure knows how to turn an old-fashioned value into a modern-day reality. As a father and a husband, Lionel Messi still runs errands for his kids and dotes on his Antonella, despite the following, according to Heavy.
“Messi is more than able to take care of his family. He makes about $21.5 million per year playing for Barcelona. Forbes listed him as the second highest-paid athlete in the world. With all his winnings, Messi made $53.4 million and an additional $28 million in endorsements.”
Surely, with all that wealth, Leo Messi can afford to hire a full battalion of assistants to watch over his kids and take care of all his other half’s needs, but obviously, that is not the Messi style. And as for turning every disadvantage into an advantage?
Now there’s a lesson for all of us who get easily intimated by the many challenges that come with life. Obviously, Leo Messi is not an alpha male in the true sense of the term. Cristiano Ronaldo does appear to be more qualified for the title, but so what? By getting creative with his much lower center of gravity and lighter frame, Leo, and his legs, are as quick and nimble as the late Muhammad Ali, who, by the way, loved saying this to himself as he played his sport.
“Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jump over the candlestick.”
And so whether you are as light as a feather or as heavy as a barge, it’s all a matter of thinking outside the box. Take it from birthday boy, Lionel Messi. He is nowhere near as tall as Ali, but he sure knows how to turn every disadvantage into an advantage and take it all the way to the bank.
[Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images]