It all began for a boy born in Rosario, Argentina on June 24, 1987 to Jorge Messi and Celia Cuccittini. Football being part of the culture in Argentina did not elude this boy and at age 5 started playing football. He moved to the youth setup of Argentine football giants Newell’s Old Boys in 1995 aged 8. His football abilities were impressive as a kid and you could say another Argentine great will be made. By age 11 this boy was diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency. His progress as a footballer hanging on the lines. Argentine powerhouse Riverplate were interested in signing the boy but could not afford treatment for his ailment. It seemed his career was doomed to come to an end but it didn’t. There was hope. FC Barcelona came in and took this boy to Catalonia offering to treat his ailment. He entered the Barcelona youth setup and in any one’s imagination this boy who might not have realised his football dreams has turned out to be arguably the best player on the planet. This of course is none other than Lionel Messi.
On October 16, 2004 in a league match against Catalan rivals Espanyol, aged 17 years, Messi made his senior debut for Barcelona. The rest is history of a boy who has dazzled the world continuously. Messi is in 10 years so far at Camp Nou has broken many records for Barcelona, the Spanish League, European club football and World football. He looks set to break many more.
Here is a collection of quotes from people across the football and sports world who poured their mind out on the Argentine Maestro.
“He is always going forwards. He never passes the ball backwards or sideways. He has only one idea, to run towards the goal. So as a football fan, just enjoy the show.”- Zinedine Zidane
“He sees passes that most people can only see whilst watching the game on TV, not ones that you can normally see on the pitch.”- Tata Martino
“For the world of football, Messi is a treasure because he is role model for children around the world… Messi will be the player to win the most Ballons d’Or in history. He will win five, six, seven. He is incomparable. He’s in a different league.”- Johan Cruyff
“I have played against Platini, Maradona, Cruyff and played with George Best — a lot of big names, but none of them has been able to do what Messi does. Two years ago I said that the best player I played against was Maradona and the best player I have played with was Bestie. But I can now say I have never seen a player as good as Messi. He’s in a league of his own.”- Gerry Armstrong.
“For me, to watch Messi play is a pleasure – it’s like having an orgasm – it’s an incredible pleasure.”- Luis Figo
“Once they said they can only stop me with a pistol. Today you need a machine gun to stop Messi.”- Hristo Stoichkov
“Messi or Ronaldo best player in the world? In the world, I would say Ronaldo. Messi is from another planet.”- Arda Turan
“Messi is God, as a person and even more as a player. I knew him when he was a boy and I’ve watched him grow. He deserves it all.”- Samuel Eto’o
“Although he may not be human, it’s good that Messi still thinks he is.”- Javier Mascherano
“They tell me that all men are equal in God’s eyes, this player makes you seriously think about those words.”- Ray Hudson
“Newton and Einstein had a certain level of autism – I hope that, like them, Messi surpasses himself every day and continues to give us his beautiful brand of football.”- Romario
“Messi is the Mozart of football.”- Radomir Antic
“It is clear that Messi is on a level above all others. Those who do not see that are blind.”- Xavi
“There are three or four important things in life: books, friends, women… and Messi.”- Lobo Antunes
“Barca will never have a player like Messi again. Messi’s greatness is present on and off the field of play.”- Sandro Rosell
“At this point I’m starting to believe that Messi is tightly related to Clark Kent.”- Bar Rafaeli
“Messi is class. There is him, and then there is the rest. What he does is extraordinary.” – Franck Ribery
“We give him the ball and stand back and watch. People often say to me they saw Pele and Maradona play. In the future, I will be able to say I saw Messi play.”- Thiago Alcanatara
“Diego filled us with emotions. But between the cracks, without doubt, Messi is better than Maradona.”- Diego Simeone
“There is no doubt, you’re from another galaxy. Thanks Leo.”- Maxi Rodriguez
“Who is the Best Player in the World? Leo Messi. Who is the Best Player Ever? Leo Messi.”-
“I have seen the player who will inherit my place in Argentine football and his name is Messi. Messi is a genius.”- Diego Maradona