📸 Mohamed Salah feeling the ❤️ in Michigan, USA.
📸 Mohamed Salah feeling the ❤️ in Michigan, USA.
Football Boots: Earliest Recorded – King Henry VIII in 1526
King Henry VIII’s football boots were listed within the Great Wardrobe of 1526, a shopping list of the day. They were made by his personal shoemaker Cornelius Johnson in 1525, at a cost of 4 shillings, the equivalent of £100 in today’s money. Little is known about them, as there is no surviving example, but the royal football boots are known to have been made of strong leather, ankle high and heavier than the normal shoe of the day.
Football Boots – The 1800’s
Moving forward 300 years saw football developing and gaining popularity throughout Britain, but still remaining as an unstructured and informal pastime, with teams representing local factories and villages in a burgeoning industrial nation. Players would wear their hard, leather work boots, which were long laced and steel toe-capped as the first football boots. These football boots would also have metal studs or tacks hammered into them to increase ground grip and stability.
As laws become integrated into the game in the late 1800’s, so saw the first shift in football boots to a slipper (or soccus) style shoe, with players of the same team starting to wear the same boots for the first time. Laws also allowed for studs, which had to be rounded. These leather studs, also known as cleats, were hammered into the early football boots, which for the first time moved away from the earlier favoured work boots. These football boots weighed 500g and were made of thick, hard leather going up the ankle for increased protection. The football boots would double in weight when wet and had six studs in the sole. The football boot had arrived…
Football Boots – The 1900’s to 1940’s
Football boot styles remained relatively constant throughout the 1900’s up to the end of the second world war. The most significant events in the football boot world in the first part of the twentieth century were the formation of several football boot producers who are still making football boots today, including Gola (1905), Valsport (1920) and Danish football boot maker Hummel (1923).
Over in Germany, Dassler brothers Adolf and Rudolf formed the Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory) in Herzogenaurach in 1924 and began producing football boots in 1925 which had 6 or 7 replaceable, nailed studs, which could be changed according to the weather conditions of play.
Football Boots – The 1940’s to 1960’s
Football boot styles shifted significantly after the end of the second world war, as air travel became cheaper and more international fixtures were played. This saw the lighter, more flexible football boot being worn by the South Americans being thrust onto the world stage, and their ball skills and technical ability amazed all those that watched them. Football boot production shifted to producing a lighter football boot with the focus on kicking and controlling the ball rather than simply producing a piece of protective footwear.
1948 saw the formation of the Adidas company by Adolf (Adi) Dassler after a falling out with his brother that was to form the cornerstone of football boot maker rivalry for the preceding years up to today. Brother Rudolf founded the beginnings of the Puma company in 1948, quickly producing the Puma Atom football boot. This led to interchangeable screw in studs made of plastic or rubber for the first time, reputedly by Puma in the early 1950’s but the honour is also claimed by Adidas (Read the Story on Footy-Boots). Football boots of the time were still over the ankle, but were now being made of a mixture of synthetic materials and leather, producing and even lighter shoe for the players of the day to display their skills with.
Football Boots – The 1960’s
The technological developments of the sixties bought a momentous step-change in design which saw the lower cut design introduced for the first time in football history. This change allowed players to move faster and saw the likes of Pele wearing Puma football boots in the 1962 World Cup Finals. Adidas, though, quickly emerged as the market leader, a position it claims until the present day. In the World Cup Finals of 1966, an astonishing 75% of players wore the Adidas football boot.
The 1960’s also saw several other football boot makers joining the market with their own brands and styling including Mitre (1960), Joma (1965) and Asics (1964).
Football Boots – The 1970’s
The seventies began with the iconic 1970 World Cup Finals which saw a sublime Brazilian team lift the trophy with Pele again at the helm, this time wearing the Puma King football boot. The decade itself will be remembered for the way in which football boot sponsorship took off, where players were being paid to wear only one brand. In terms of design and style, technological advancements produced lighter boots, and a variety of colours, including for the first time, the all-white football boot.
In 1979, Adidas produced the world’s best selling football boot the Copa Mundial, built of kangaroo leather and built for speed and versatility. Although Adidas remained dominant, several other football boot makers joined the fray including Italian football boot maker Diadora (1977).
Football Boots – The 1980’s
The greatest development of recent times in the design and technology of football boots was developed in the eighties by former player Craig Johnston, who created the Predator football boot, which was eventually released by Adidas in the 1990’s. Johnston designed the Predator to provide greater traction between football boot and the ball, and football boot and the ground. The design allowed for greater surface areas to come into contact with the ball when being hit by the football boot, with a series of power and swerve zones within the striking area allowing the player to create greater power and swerve when hitting the “sweet spots”. The eighties also saw football boots for the first time being made by English company Umbro (1985), Italy’s Lotto and Spain’s Kelme (1982).
Football Boots – 1990’s
1994 saw Adidas release the Craig Johnston designed Predator with its revolutionary design, styling and technology making it an instant and lasting success. The Predator by now featured polymer extrusion technologies and materials allowing for a more flexible sole as well as the conventional studs being replaced by a bladed design covering the sole, giving a more stable base for the player. In 1995 Adidas released their bladed outsole traxion technology which are tapered shaped blades. Puma hit back in 1996 with a foam-free midsole football boot, known as Puma Cell Technology, to which Adidas responded again, this time with wedge shaped studs in the same year. The nineties saw new football boot producers Mizuno release their Mizuno Wave in 1997. Other new football boots came from Reebok (1992) and Uhlsport (1993) with other companies also joining the ever increasing, lucrative and competitive market place. Most significantly the nineties saw the entry of Nike, the world’s biggest sportswear producer, immediately making an impact with its Nike Mercurial soccer boot (1998), weighing in at just 200g.
Football Boots – 2000+
As technology advanced still further, the application of the new research and developments were seen in the years into the new millennium right up to the present day and this has led to a reinforcement of the market positions of the big three football boot makers and sellers, Puma, Nike and Adidas (incorporating Reebok since 2006). Fortunately, there still remains room in the market place for the smaller producer that does not have the big money endorsement contracts at its disposal, such as Mizuno, Diadora, Lotto, Hummel and Nomis.
Recent developments since 2000 have seen the Nomis Wet control technology producing a sticky boot (2002), the Craig Johnston Pig Boot (2003), shark technology by Kelme (2006) and the exceptional design of the Lotto Zhero Gravity laceless football boots (2006) all of which underpin the successes that these smaller makers can achieve by producing specialised and technologically advanced football boots that provide a distinct differentiation from the mass produced products of the big three. Laser technology has also helped to produce the world’s first fully customised football by Prior 2 Lever, which is perhaps the most exciting and innovative of the recent developments.
Current favourite football boots include Adidas’ F50, Tunit and Predator; Nike’s Mercurial Vapor III, Air Zoom Total 90s and Tiempo Ronaldinho, Reebok Pro Rage and Umbro X Boots.
Football Boots – The Future
As the debate rages with regards the lack of protection given by modern football boots, and the repercussion in terms of player injuries, there seems little to suggest that the major manufacturers are going to give up their quest for the lightest football boot for a more protective one. The proliferation of big money sponsorship deals, namely Nike Ronaldinho, Adidas with David Beckham and Reebok with Thierry Henry, has become a huge factor that drives the success and sales of a football boot maker, but is viewed as at a cost of injury and stagnation in football boot research and development. All we can predict for the future is integration with sensor technology, lighter and more powerful football boots and more outlandish designs and styles.
Football boots have travelled a long way since King Henry strutted onto the fields of England in the 1500’s: the football boot has gone from an everyday protective apparel to a highly designed and cutting edge technological product which is a vital part of the player’s equipment. Whatever the colour, the design, the style or the player – we love footy boots!
The team began as a church side, St Andrews of West Kensington, becoming professional nineteen years later.
2.Leyton Orient, 1881
Starting as the football team of the Glyn Cricket Club in East London, the side took the Orient into the name in 1888 at the suggestion of a player who worked for the Orient Shipping Line. Known as Clapton Orient from 1898, they moved to Leyton in the 1930s.
Founded as Woodville FC by former students of two schools in the area, the team became New Barnet FC in 1885 and simply Barnet FC three years later.
4.Tottenham Hotspurs, 1882
Formed by boys from the Hotspur cricket club and from the local grammar school and named Hotspur FC, the side took the name of Tottenham Hotspur Football and Athletic Club in 1884.
The team was founded as Millwall Rovers in thee summer of 1885 by workers at Morton’s Jam Factory on the Isle of Dogs.
6.Queen’s Park Rangers, 1886
The club was formed when a team called St Judees combined with a team called Christchurch Rangers in 188.
The Gunners began life as ‘Dial Square’ when a group of workers at the Woolwich Arsenal Armannent factory formed a team of that name and played their first game on 11 December 1886. In 1891 the Club turned professional and changed its name to Woolwich Arsenal, joining the Football League two years later.
The team was founded as an offshoot of the Brentford Rowing Club. Once it was established, there was a debate at one of the earliest meetings about whether the team should play Association football or Rugby football. Association won by eight votes to five.
9.Wimbledon, 1889 (now the MK Dons)
Formed as the Wimbledon Old Centrals, they played their first matches on the Common.
10.West Ham United, 1895
The Hammers were founded as the works team of the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Co. Ltd.
11.Charlton Athletic, 1905
The team was created by a group of teenagers who all lived in and around Eastmoor Street, SE7, and did not become a senior side for another eight years.
12. Chelsea, 1905
Two businessmen called Mears bought the athletics stadium at Stamford Bridge with the intention of staging football matches but they did so before they had a team to play there. After approaching Fulham to see if they wanted to move in (they didn’t) the brothers chose to form a new club from scratch. Chelsea were founded on 14 March 1905 in what was then the Rising Sun pub opposite the main entrance to Stamford Bridge on Fulham Road. Voted into the Football League for the 1905-06 season, they became the only team ever to enter the League before they’d played a match.
13. Crystal Palace, 1905
Founded as a team to play at the sporting facilities at the old Crystal Palace which stood on Sydenham Hill, the side won the Southern League Division Two championship in their first season.
Short term rental London
La Liga refers to the first division Spanish League. The top professional football league in Spain is officially called as Liga BBVA for the reason of sponsorship. It is one of the most professional and exciting leagues in Europe, attracting some best football talents from all over the globe.
Just like any other leagues, La Liga is also guided by some strict rules and regulations regarding promotional and relegation of the clubs as well as how many non-EU players can play in the league. Let us take a quick glance over the La Liga rules.
Rules of Promotion-Relegation
Every year, 20 teams take part in the competition. The three teams finishing at the bottom of the league table are relegated to the 2nd division of the Spanish league system, with the top two rankers in the immediately lower division and the winner in a play-off replacing the relegated clubs.
Inclusion of Non-EU Players
There is an upper cap in regards to retaining of non-EU players in this top-most division of Spanish league. In La Liga, every team is allowed to retain a maximum of three offshore players. Even in the second division, each participating clubs can keep hold of only 2 players. If any La Liga club is relegated to the lower division, it is allowed to keep hold of the same number of foreign players until their contracts are expired.
What does it mean by “Non-EU”? The phrase has been repeated many times following several verdicts from the European Court of Justice. According to a decision adopted by the Spanish Federation in this regard, the participating La Liga teams are entitled to make the best use of the rules and bring many foreign players to their squad.
Claim of Citizenship
The foreign players are allowed to apply for Spanish citizenship from the countries where their ancestors descended from. In La Liga, a non-EU player can claim for Spanish Citizenship if he has played in Spain for at least, five years and it may result into triple citizenship. Let us give you an example. Leo Franco was born in Argentina and has Italian ancestry. He is capable of applying for Spain citizenship, having played in the country for more than five years.
The players arriving from the ACP countries including Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific, are not considered against the Non-EU category as per the Kolpak ruling.
Breach of Rules & Conduct
All the La Liga clubs are required to abide by the rules and regulations as clearly specified by the highest authority in the Spanish football league system that, in turn, ensures compatibility with the guidelines made by FIFA, the governing body of football in the world. In recent times, Barcelona have been handed punishment by FIFA for failing to conform to the rules regarding transfer of the players after allegation of transfer of the under-age players (below 18).
The defending La Liga champions are not allowed to play any new player until January of 2016. The club applied against the ban but it was not lifted. However, they have been allowed to sell players during the time of transfer ban.
Jürgen Klopp’s best signing? 🤔
#OnThisDay in 2016, Sadio Mané joined Liverpool FC. 💪 #UCL
Fun facts about soccer give us information about the most popular sport in the world, soccer. There are a lot of facts about the sport that we might not know.
Here are some of the interesting fun facts about our favorite sport:
There are a lot more of these fun facts about soccer.
In Nigeria, the game of football is followed with a lot of passion considering the fact that the country remains the largest exporter of footballers in major leagues of the world. The game is not even devoid of players who get famous for the wrong reasons. Below are the top five Nigerian players who though talent, were always at the receiving end of the media. Some are no longer active, while others are still actively involved in both club and country.
Etim Esin was born in Oron in Akwa Ibom State, Southern Nigeria in the year 1960. He emerged as one of the most talented stars in the local scene when he helped Nigeria qualify for the 1987 FIFA World Youth Championship in Chile. His urge potential however suffered serious dent due to lack of discipline and arrogance. In the height of his escapade, Etim Esin was shot by armed robbers in 1987 prior to the Junior World Cup. The nail in his coffin came while he was playing for AK Ghent of Belgium in the early 1990's, as he was convinced of raping a Belgian girl and rarely deported back to Nigeria by Belgian Immigration authorities.
Tarila Okorowanta was a creative midfielder who became a local folk hero while playing for Shooting Stars football clubs of Ibadan in the 1980's. His career was even engulfed in controversies due to lack of discipline and frequent breaking of camp rules. Tarila Okorowanta made the wrong headlines when he defected to Italy while Shooting Stars of Ibadan were returning back from an African Champions Cup match in Tunisia. That rash action led to the eventual fall of his wonderful but short career.
Gbolahan Salami is a striker with the Shooting Stars football club of Ibadan. A bulky and exceptionally gifted player, Gbolahan gained fame when he starred for Nigeria at the U-20 World Cup held in Egypt in 2009. The rising profile of the bully striker however suffered some knocks last year when he was slammed with a two match- ban for verbally assaulting his former coach at Sunshine football club- Gbenga Ogunbote. To compound his woes, he got a one year ban recently when Shooting stars were forced to a 1-1 draw by visiting Crown FC of Ogbomosho in a Premier League fixture played on Sunday 30th January 2011. He allegedly attempted to attack the match referee- Michael Oshei for awarding a late penalty against his club-side.
Junior Osagie is a former Enyimba and Super Eagles of Nigeria invitee who was fond of breaking camp rules. The highly talented striker could not fulfill his goal of play professional football abroad due partly to his erratic conduct and the negative influence surrounding his career.
Akpan Bassey is the only goalkeeper in the Nigeria Premier League to be given a one year ban since theception of the league. He was a member of the Ladan Bosso-led U-20 team that participated at the 2007 FIFA World Cup held in Canada. Although lacking in height, he remains one of the best goalkeeper in the Nigeria Premier League till date. His superlative performance has even earned him invitations to the Super Eagles of Nigeria on several occasions. The Heartland FC of Owerri shot-stopper had earlier been handed down a $ 650 fine and a one match ban on the 20th of January 2011 for shoving a referee during a Premier League match against Sunshine FC of Akure.
One sad trend that can be observed from each of these players, is that they are all gifted and talented, but failure to abide by the rules of the game adversely affected their career. It is a lesson which other aspiring footballers must learn from.
For the best part of the last decade, two names have dominated world football (soccer) more than any others; Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. These great rivals have broken countless football records, scored insane number of goals and pushed each other all the way to greatness despite the fact that they are two very different football players, playing two very different styles in two very different roles for two different clubs. The only thing that really connects the two is the ocean of ability that separates them from the rest of the players in the world. There can be no question as to whether the duo belongs in the pantheon of football all-time greats anymore. Although any effort to determine the greatest footballer of all time is subject to generational bias, it should be noted that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are not individually or collectively the greatest football player[s] of all time due to the following reasons;
Cristiano is not the best ‘Ronaldo’ to play the game: Despite his unparalleled achievement in and off the field of play, Cristiano Ronaldo is still not considered the best Ronaldo to have played the game. Ronaldo de Assisi (also known as Ronaldinho) and Ronaldo de Lima (the phenomenon) are the other ‘Ronaldos’ whose legendary attacking prowess is often compared to Cristiano Ronaldo’s. Ronaldo de Lima was a more explosive and complete striker who would have probably been the ‘World’s Best Striker Ever’ if he had stayed injury-free in his footballing career, while Ronaldinho was the entertainer who, at his peak, constantly wowed the footballing world. Cristiano Ronaldo is better than other ‘Ronaldos’ in terms of constituency over the years, phenomenal goal-scoring rates, overall fitness and prolonged career (due to low rate of injuries) but for sheer skill, explosiveness, superior technical ability, and the ‘wow’ factor, the two ‘Ronaldos’ are better than Cristiano Ronaldo.
Lionel Messi is not the best ever Argentine player: It is a well-known fact that for a footballer to be the best ever in the world, he has to be the best ever footballer in his country and sadly, Lionel Messi isn’t both. Lionel Messi is not the best football player Argentina has produced. That honor goes to Diego Armando Maradona. Maradona (widely regarded as one of the best football players ever) is a footballing legend that inspired Argentina to a world cup victory and S.S.C. Napoli (in the Italian Football League) to its first and second League title [Scudetti] in its history. He is the scorer of the world’s most dubious goal (the ‘Hand of God’ goal) and the FIFA Goal of the Century. There is virtually a cult around the player in Argentina. Diego Maradona (and Pele) is the benchmark for the illustrious South American nation when a new star comes on to the block. So, while Messi has dazzled on the European stage, passing milestone after milestone and picking up loads of awards, his countrymen regard him as the country’s second best football player ever.
Both players have never won the World Cup: Although the latter rounds of the modern-day UEFA Champions League would rival the FIFA World Cup in terms of quality, with talents from around the globe increasingly concentrated in the hands of an elite few, the World Cup still retains substantial symbolic value as a quadrennial competition which pit the best of one nation against the best of another. It is no secret Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have never won (or inspired their respective countries to win) the FIFA World Cup. Cristiano Ronaldo has won an European Cup (The Euros) with his home country, Portugal but has never been to the semi-finals or the finals of the World Cup while Lionel Messi was underwhelming in the 2014 world cup semi-final and final with his home country Argentina eventually losing to Germany. The World (and Messi) was shocked when he was named the best player and awarded the Golden Ball of the tournament. Lionel Messi is also a three-time runner-up in the Copa America competition with Argentina. Most football players such as Zinedine Zidane, Pele, Diego Maradonna, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo de Lima etc. often touted as the world’s best ever football player all played dominant roles in the World Cup tournament they eventually won. The same cannot be said presently of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
They are not Football’s best Goal-scorers ever: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are efficient, effective and phenomenal goal scorers boasting amazing goal per match ratio but they aren’t among the five best goal scorers in football history. Neither of them have scored up more than 700 goals in their respective careers so they cannot be in the company of great players such as Pele, Romario, Josef Bican, Ferenc Puskas (he has a FIFA goal-scoring award named after him), Gerd Muller. The rate of scoring of these legendary players is more impressive than that of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo given they ended their footballing careers with goal tallies well into the 800s. So if scoring goals are what makes footballers great, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, having better players boasting better goal tallies ahead of them, cannot be the greatest footballers of all time.
Both players have been accused of being criminals: They both have tax payment issues with the Spanish authorities (the country they reside and play in) and so have been accused of being criminals. After a lengthy trial that attracted so much publicity due to his status as a supremely gifted sportsman, Lionel Messi (and his father) was found guilty of not paying his taxes to the Spanish government, fined heavily and sentenced to two years in prison (he has since agreed to pay an increased fine rather than have a 21-month suspended prison sentence). His trial, guilty verdict, fine and (suspended) sentence damaged his credibility as a morally upright athlete who could do no wrong and that of his football club (FC Barcelona). Cristiano Ronaldo is also being investigated for tax evasion by the Spanish authorities, might be tried (or not), heavily fined and get a suspended prison sentence.
Their overall goal tallies are padded with too many penalties: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the greatest goal scorers of their generation. They score obscene number of goals in a football season but almost half of the total goals scored both players have come from the penalty spot. In football, penalties are the easiest way to score because it involves only the designated penalty-taker and a goal keeper to beat. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, being the designated penalty-takers of their respective club sides, always take every penalty kick awarded them or their teammates thereby increasing their goal tallies. In 2013/2014 Football season in England, Luis Suarez of Liverpool FC (before he moved to FC Barcelona to become a teammate of Lionel Messi) won the highest goal scorer award in the English Premier League and shared the European Golden Shoe award with Cristiano Ronaldo by scoring 32 goals in 33 games in open play without taking a single penalty. That is a record Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo do not yet hold.
They play for football’s most valuable clubs: Messi and Ronaldo play for super-clubs in Spain where the top sides score goals by the hatful. The second millennium’s new financial order unfortunately gave birth to the modern super team essentially creating a certain form of predictability in both domestic and continental leagues. Lionel Messi plays for FC Barcelona in Spain while Ronaldo plays for Real Madrid CF also in Spain. FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF are extremely rich and dominant football clubs that can afford to buy and stockpile the best and most expensive football talent anywhere in the world and so Messi and Ronaldo are always surrounded and assisted by world-class players to aid in dominating continental club football thus raising their international profiles. Both clubs always have a slew of world-class players at their disposal which leads to utter domination in domestic (Spanish La Liga) and continental (UEFA Champions League) football competitions.
The benefit of playing in the Modern Era: It is almost impossible to compare players of different era in a game that has changed so much over the years. Great footballers like Ferenc Puskas, Alfredo di Stefano played in an era when the game was played at a tempo unrecognizably slower than in the modern era. That does not make them less great than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The game played presently has changed because of changes in rules governing the game and the quality of footballs produced and used. Players in the modern era are also fitter, faster, and stronger than they have ever been, but players (especially defenders) are technically weaker than they have ever been. The Champions League’s expansions of the nineties is also an advantage to the modern player: having a group stage allows a margin of error that simply did not exist in the knock out style pre-1995 tournament. It has never been easier for attackers – Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo probably would never score 40-60 goals a season in the 1980s when the rules governing the game and footballs used didn’t benefits attackers (strikers), and defenders/defenses were littered with world-class talents.
They are a part of football’s rich history: We view the history of the game through our own national experiences, or at least we did until the modern era, where we can watch the Spanish league, Messi and Ronaldo every weekend. It is worth remembering that in the 1970s and even into the 1980s, most of Europe just watched the European Cup and UEFA Cup games of their own national teams. So, here is a little suggestion; the next time Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo score a breath-taking goal and someone on Twitter suggests the debate (on the greatest football player) is over, head to YouTube and spend ten minutes watching goals from Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff, Pele, Ferenc Puskas, Roberto Baggio, Eusebio, Alfredo di Stefano and so on. There have been plenty of geniuses in the game, and Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are part of that rich football history.
Generational and positional bias in football: The hunt for the greatest football player in history is like that of the Holy Grail. All footballers (sportsmen) are products of their time. Due to football’s developmental stagnation relative to other sport and because there are so many different positions, and so many roles within those positions, it is hard to have a worthwhile conversation about who the best football player of all time is. Since the main objective of the game is to score a goal, the best goal scorers such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will always be near the top of any list about the game’s best players.
Conclusion; Don’t kid yourself that there won’t be another player like Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, no-one thought they would see another player like Diego Maradona.
His complete name is Sylvain Claude Wiltord. He was born on 10 May 1974 in Neuilly-sur-Marne, France. With the national side of French, Wiltord has been successful in Euro 2000 and achieved the final of FIFA World Cup in 2006. Wiltord’s playing position in the field is as Striker / Winger.
Wiltord have many experiences palying football with some clubs. In club level he played for Rennes in 1992-1997, Girondins Bordeaux in 1997-2000, Arsenal in 2000-2004, Lyon in 2004-2007, Rennes in 2007-2009, Marseille in 2009, and Metz 2010 till now.
On 10 February 1999, he made his first appearance for France winning 2-0 against England. On behalf of his national team, he has been capped 92 times, making 26 goals.
Wiltord stay put in the national team for the 2002 World Cup. He participated at Euro 2004 as well, playing 7 matches in the qualifying campaign with a great return of 6 goals. Lately, he was member of France team of Raymond Domenech that participated in the 2006 World Cup final in opposition to Italy.
During his career Wiltord achieved many honors as soccer player. And the honors include With Girondins de Bordeaux (French Ligue 1: 1998-99), With Arsenal, (FA Premier League: 2001/02, 2003/04, FA Cup: 2002, 2003, FA Community Shield: 2002), With Olympique Lyonnais (French Ligue 1: 2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/07). With his national team the honors include UEFA Euro 2000, FIFA Confederations Cup: 2001, 2003 (as Winner), and FIFA World Cup: 2006 (as Runner-up). And as individual honors are French Ligue 1 Top Scorer: 1998-99 (22 goals with Bordeaux), French Footballer of the Year: 1999, and FIFA Confederations Cup Top Scorer: 2001.
From Carlos Gardel and Eva Peron to Maradona and Lionel Messi
“He (Lionel Messi) is the best player in the world by some distance”, Arsne Wenger, the coach of the F.C. Arsenal, has proclaimed of the five-foot-eight-inch tall, Argentine-born football star, “He’s (like) a PlayStation. He can take advantage of every mistake we make”.
As elsewhere in Latin America, much of Argentina’s sporting history has been dominated by football — known simply as soccer in the States– since the 1920s. After Argentina’s military strongman Jorge Rafael Videla Redondo, a hated tyrant, declared top priority to win the FIFA Global Cup in the late 1970s, the nation’s footballers invaded the world with a host of global awards and trophies. On June 25, 1978, Mario Kempes and his fellow players lifted the winner’s Cup on home soil upon scoring an overwhelming win against a Peruvian team led by an Argentine-born goalkeeper (6-0) in the semis. Within a year, in Japan’s capital city of Tokyo, the South American contingent,spearheaded by Diego Armando Maradona, was regarded as the best junior team on the Planet at the expense of the former Soviet Union/USSR. Shortly thereafter, Argentina was one of the “huge favorites” in the men’s football tournament prior to joining the U.S.-led boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games. Three years on, its national side came close to winning the IV Junior Global Championship.
On June 29, 1986, Los Celestes, as the national squad is known around the globe, placed first in the FIFA Cup in the United Mexican States; One of the most memorable matches ever seen in World Cup history was played there as Argentina beat England–Maradona and his team-mates tried to win on the field what their countrymen had lost in the 1982 Anglo-Argentine Falklands War. Already, in 1990, once again Maradona put Argentina in the final of the FIFA Cup on Italian soil. In the space of six years, from 1995 through 2005, the national contingent was four-time winner of the Under-20 World tournament. It was around this time that name Messi appeared on the scene.
Argentine-born Messi,who is dubbed ” the Flea”, is a strong and powerful forward who plays both in FC Barcelona (since 2003) and Argentina’s national squad (2006).Curiously, he has spent his entire career in Spanish club (nearly 10 years), working in a variety of teams (Under-15, U-17, U-19, as well as other squads). Messi has become almost indispensable to his club (known popularly as “Barca”)-he is the backbone of Barcelona’s 4-3-3 formation. Nevertheless, he loves to play football with the Argentine side, having refused to be a member of the Spanish national team despite his strong links to European nation. As well as being an Argentine-born person, Messi, of Italian background, is a Spaniard citizen since the mid-2000s. From 2005 through 2011, Messi collected over seventy individual awards. Indeed, his success as a sportsman is largely due to his persistence and hard discipline. According to Paris-based magazine France Football, Messi is the world’s top paid footballer. Besides all that, the center forward —a soccer gold medalist in the 2008 Olympics– has gained international stature as a champion for the rights of children.
Although Lionel Andres Messi, known occasionally as “the ghost center forward”,is considered one of the greatest soccer players to have never won a FIFA World Cup (together with Ferenc Puskas from Hungary and Liberia’s George Weah), he is already one of the male athletes most famous on the global sporting map. In the Western Hemisphere, Messi, who is often compared to Maradona, has inspired thousands of young would-be footballers to follow their dreams,especially in poverty-stricken regions. But not only that, because of him more people know about Argentina –which has a long-standing history of man-made disasters— than ever before. On his home soil, his status is only comparable to three national celebrities: Argentina’s postwar First Lady Eva Perón -made famous by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Evita— Maradona, and Carlos Gardel, nicknamed the “songbird of Buenos Aires” and who helped popularize tango around the world.
Lionel Messi: A Rough Diamond
Lionel Messi’s life changed forever when he was plucked out of the Spanish-speaking republic of Argentina by a talent scout to play for Barca, which is often referred to as one of the top clubs around the globe- it holds hundreds of millions of soccer fans outside its own borders, from Bangladesh and Guinea-Bissau to San Marino and the Feroe islands.
You cannot become a top sportsman (woman) if you don’t achieve notable results, if you are not a hard worker, and before all, if you are not able to overcome the obstacles in your life. In fact, Lionel Messi knows firsthand about this. Like his fellow Argentine Maradona, Messi is small –who stands 5 feet 8 inches tall– for the position of forward, but he overcame this with a prodigious ability and exceptional intelligence on the filed, earning the nickname “Flea”. Over his athletic career, he also has defeated other hurdles: numerous injuries, especially during Rikjaard’s direction. Throughout his years as a boy, his country underwent one of the deepest recessions in the Americas. But this wasn’t all. Because of an illness, he almost gave up the sport. By 2008, there were troubles to send Messi to the Summer Games due to his dual citizenship and status as a professional footballer in Barcelona. Against club wishes, however, Messi,the greatest professional footballer of all time, arrived at Beijing with the Argentine squad (as a defending champion). In the Olympic arena, soon afterwards, he and his colleagues were champions, making history in the People’s Republic of China. Currently, Barcelona won’t sell Messi for anything in the world.
Messi bases his success on being able to offer a play based on passion, determination, hard discipline, and an exceptional ability. No player can ever be categorized as invincible in football world, but Messi is probably the most talented man ever to carry a ball. In all his matches, Messi plays as if were a game for the FIFA World Championship.
Rosario: The Birth Of A Footballer
Born in the Argentinian city of Rosario (Santa Fe Province), on June 24 1987 – a year after his country captured the FIFA World Tournament in the Mexican metropolis— Messi is one of the fourth children born to Jorge Horacio Messi and his wife, the former Celia Mara Cucittini. Curiously, he is one of the four most prominent individuals from Rosario, alongside Libertad Lamarque (performer), Valeria Mazza (supermodel),and César Luis Menotti (football coach).
His father had been a factory steel worker. In fact, Messi inherited his football genes from his father, who was coach during a brief period. Meanwhile, Messi’s mother is an admirer of notable people and wanted his children to have famous names. Celia Mara named his son Lionel after her favorite idol Lionel Richie, a Grammy-winning singer/songwriter whose pop chart-topping hits in the 1980s included “Truly”, “You Are”, and “All Night Long”.
Like most of Argentina’s sportsmen as Octavio Dazzan (cycling), David Nalbandian (tennis), and Manu Ginibili (basketball), Lionel reflects the Italian roots of his motherland. His father’s family is from Italy’s city of Ancona who came to the Latin American place during a large-scale European immigration at the turn of the 19th century. This Spanish-trained professional footballer, the high-scoring forward of Barcelona, has two brothers, Rodrigo and Matas, and a sister, Maria Sol. On the other hand, his cousins Maximiliano and Emmanuel Biancucchi are also soccer players.
His sporting life goes back to times when Messi grew up playing football in Rosario, a land famous for their athletic passion and hosted the World Championships for both professional and amateurs, including the Men’s Football World Cup (1978) and Men’s Volleyball Global Tournament (1982);Messi can take credit for that because he has been named official Ambassador for Rosario’s 2019 Pan American bid. Under this Olympic atmosphere, Jorge Horacio Messi made no secret of his ambitions for his son.
Like several Latino champs –among them Edwin Vásquez Cam (shooting) and Nancy López (golf) — Messi was introduced to sport by his father. Before joining the Newell’s Old Boy’s youth side, Lionel -when he was only 5 years old— played in the local team of Grandioli, where his father was coach. On that occasion, the smaller Lionel was a goalie on the football team. At the time, he had a lot of athletic skills, but not the technical skills. Shortly after, while Lionel demonstrated his talent in the under-10 competitions in his homeland and abroad in the middle of the 1990s, the Argentine boy, at the age of 11, was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. Since then, prior to begin an athletic career as a junior player in the following years, he had to beat back an illness, whose treatment cost $ 900 a month. But in spite of this problem, his enthusiasm for football was unbelievable.
A Golden Opportunity
Recognizing Messi’s precocious talent, Carles Rexach, a sports administrator, promised him that FC Barcelona would pay his treatment if he decideto play for the famous club.The answer was “yes”, of course. As a consequence of this, Messi and his parents moved permanently to Barcelonese soil, a football-mad place. On that occasion, the youngster was sad to leave his home city. However, the Spaniard place had a special significance to Messi: There, on May 3, 1980, his fellow Argentine Maradona signed a six-year contract with the traditional side.
The travel proved to be a turning point in his life. In the capital and largest city of Spain’s Catalan region — one of Europe’s first class cities— Messi received a scholarship to play football in Barca’s athletic academy, alongside Xabi Alonso, Gerard Piqu, Andrs Iniesta and other boys. The Club’s Youth Academy (one of Western Europe’s major sports academies), was set up with one primary goal in mind: Scans up to 300 young talents and transform some of them into champions. The youth squads have always preoccupied Barcelona’s sports leaders. In recent decades, the Spaniard club sent scouts to Latin America looking for promising youth athletes.
As well as being the nation’s second largest city behind Madrid, Barcelona is a place that is tied closely to the Olympic Movement, physical activity and all of the values that sport represent in the 21st Century. This corner of the planet, host to the 1992 Summer Olympic Games, is an international grandstand with recreational spaces, sports academies, and state-of-the-art Olympian facilities on a par with other sporting cities such as London (UK), Singapore City, Doha (Qatar), Montreal (Canada), Dubai ( United Arab Emirates), and Los Angeles (CA). Additionally, it was home of Mr. Juan Antonio Samaranch, former Chairman of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and among the world’s most gifted and influential sports administrators.
During a breakout year, after overcoming his illness, Messi, who was about four-foot-seven-inch tall, become one of Barca’s top male players in the Boys’ Division of the Spanish Football Championships. There, he had been outstanding throughout the event, scoring over 35 goals and setting numerous records for his age group. A couple of years later, under the aegis of Spain’s Club, Messi improved rapidly his play and was promoted to the junior team’s starting lineup, competing in the under-19 tournaments.
Encouraged by Frank Rijkaard
As a young teen, he got the first opportunity to used his talent as a member of Barca’s official contingent when he made his first appearance in the friendly against Porto on November 16, 2003. Following his initial impact, scoring 22 goals in the junior competitions, the up-and-coming Messi, by late 2003, was moved up to the reserves of the club: The squad “C”, prior to winning the right to play for Barcelona B side, a second division club. Messi, as a young athlete, acquired enough expertise to participate in senior soccer events, face-to-face with finest professional players from Europe and abroad. It was an excellent school for him, of course.
After watching his athletic performance in the traditional junior contests on Spaniard soil, Frank Rijkaard, Barca’s major coach at the time, put his eyes on Messi –perhaps his most famous pupil–and did not doubt that he would be the next greatest footballer on the Planet —Perhaps a Maradona. Nonetheless,the high-flying coach was not the first to be excited by the potential of Messi. On the other hand, Rijkaard backed up a number of young players, including Carles Puyol and Vctor Valds.
At the age of 17, Messi had a chance to show his athletic potential. Fortunately,he did not disappoint to Barca’s sports officials and soccer fans when he entered the highest level in Spanish championship, by passing many senior footballers and becoming the youngest player in the domestic soccer league. It was one of the greatest moments of Messi’s life on the soccer field.
Encouraged by his coach, Frank Rijkaard, Messi, months later, made his mark with the club by scoring his first senior goal against Albacete Balompi, becoming the youngest footballer from Barcelona to ever score in the domestic football league, among the world’s most competitive sports tournaments. By any standards it is a phenomenal achievement. In fact, Rijkaard made him the focus of the team’s new offfensive scheme. Later on, Messi spoke with gratitude about Rijkaard, “I will never forget the fact that he launched my career, that he had confidence in me while I was only sixteen or seventeen”. Without a doubt, he was considered one of the great prospects of the world football.
A Champion In the Netherlands
By the mid-2000s,Messi brought home his country’s fifth junior global title, considered a huge success in the South American republic; It was a history-making day for the Argentinean Football Association (AFA). Messi began his work with his homeland when Argentina’s sports officials called on him to join the 2005 junior World Cup team. Always a heavy favorite with the Dutch fans, the national side, sparked by Messi, came first in the global contest in front of the Amsterdam (Netherlands’ capital) crowd, an international sporting platform to numerous unknown footballers. Thereupon, Messi collected two special awards in Holland: The Golden Ball and the Golden Shoe.
Futbol Club Barcelona: 2005- 2006 Season
The breakthrough season for the team and Messi came in 2005-06. Three of Barcelona’s Spanish titles can be attributed to Messi: Domestic League, Cataluña Cup, and Spanish Supercup— beginning a new period of success for Spain’s most popular club and topping the TV sports rankings in the European nation. On that occasion, Messi also amassed three individual trophies.
On September 27, 2005,before a crowd of several fans and spectators at Barcelona’s Nou Camp Stadium (among the world’s major football stadia), star youngster Messi made his debut as a local player in the European League Championship (against Italy’s Udinese). He competed with Barca until his injury, six months later. In spite of playing without Messi, however, the club earned the famous Champions League, one of the four big international events on Earth, along with the Olympic Games (Winter and Summer), and the FIFA World Cup.
In the same year, the prolific scorer Messi was named as Europe’s best young player by Tuttosport (a magazine from Italy), gaining the Golden Boy Trophy, by passing several sportsmen such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney.
Curiously, Spain is home of one of the world’s largest populations of foreign-born athletes(along with France, Canada and the oil-rich Kingdom of Qatar) such as Eulogio Martínez (Paraguay, football), Nina Zhivanevskaya (Russia, swimming), Juan Domingo de la Cruz (Argentina, basketball), Glory Alozie (athletics, Nigeria), and Juan Pérez (Cuba, waterpolo). By the end of 2005, Messi was one of the last athletes to become a Spanish citizen (dual citizenship), making him eligible to play as a Spanish player in the National League.
FIFA 2006 World Cup
Historically, Argentina has the honor of being the third Third World country to capture the global contest after Uruguay (1930 & 1950) and Brazil (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002). Due to this tradition and thanks to its world-beating players on European soil, the Argentine football squad had become one of the top favorites to gain the 2006 FIFA Cup, but they finished sixth overall (ahead of three Europeans squads: England, Ukraine and Spain), after losing to host Germany in the quarterfinals. Immediately, Argentina’s soccer fans blamed José Pekerman, national coach, for the defeat against Germany. Why? Incredibly, Messi was excluded to play that game.
Certainly, Messi had dissapointed 2006. Although, he made his long-awaited debut in the World Cup as he led Argentina -two-time winner of the men’s football World Cup (1978 & 1986)– to win its first points following a triumph over Serbia-Montenegro (former Yugoslavia). In Germany, he played three of Argentina’s five football matches.
During the 2006 World Cup, Messi became Argentina’s most youngest footballer to attend the FIFA Cup. The following year,Messi and his fellow Argentine players finished as runner-ups to Brazil in the 2007 America’s Cup on Venezuelan soil.
Spain’s ‘Football War’
Throghout his 2006-07 season, Messi had become a regular player in his European squad, competing on equal terms with senior players and attracting huge numbers of interested fans. It was truly an inspiring moment. However, he withdrew from the Spaniard Football League due to an injury (a game against Real Zaragosa).
With better health and upon spending three months on South American soil, Messi went back to Spain, playing in the match between Barcelona and Racing de Santander. Soon after, he made a hat-trick when his club drawn 3-3 with Real Madrid, a match between the two most popular teams in Spain (better known as “The Clasico”). Since decades ago, these matches have been labelled the “Spain’s Football War”, attracting the largest average audience in the European country and numerous regions around the world, especially in soccer nations. In fact, it is a battle which is being won by Barca’s team in recent years.
Messi’s Hand of God Goal
As he entered his 20s, by 2007, he picked up a total of 14 individual trophies inside and outside Spain, a new personal record over his professional career. But this wasn’t all. Evoking the style of Argentina’s former star Maradona, Messi, was dubbed “Messidona” in the course of an impressive career as a sportsman.
During a never-to-be-forgotten game, on April 18, 2007, the Barcelonese club got two goals from Messi to defeat Getafe CF in the semis of the Copa del Rey; one goal inspired comparisons to Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God ‘goal against England’s squad at the 1986 Mexico City World Tournament — it appeared that Messi may have knocked the ball into the net with his fist. In fact, this was great news both for Barcelona and the whole country. Nobody could imagine this feat. His fellow player Deco said, “It was the best goal I have ever seen in my life”.
Over the course of the season,Messi was in the spotlight as he was regarded as the world’s top footballer by experts, sportswriters, coaches, players, and sports administrators. Meanwhile, Messi was elected as one of the 14th Best Male Athletes in 2007 by a total of 422 AIPS (International Sports Press Association) members from 94 countries–ahead of South Africa’s rugby star Bryan Habana and Rafael Nadal, a tennis player from Spain.
After making a record in soccer world —scored five goals over a span of seven days– Messi helped Barcelona to become one of the four leaders in the first class Spaniard championship. He was the answer to their lack of versatility in attacking positions. In fact, he sees Barcelona through the eyes of a lover. Additionally, he scored also two goals in the UEFA Champions League. In beginning 2008, Messi celebrated his 100th match.
In March, the star athlete was forced to drop out of the Champions League because of an injury. Following over a month, he returned to the line-up, competing with Cristiano Ronaldo, considered among the globe’s finest footballers. Under Messi’s guidance, however, the Barcelonese club was eliminated from the European championship, showing the effects of his injury. Certainly, Messi had not a strong performance in this season, winning only two unofficial events (Beckenbauer Cup in Germany and Joan Gamper Trophy). In July of that year, on the other hand, Messi was appointed as the captain for the first time in a friendly match against Scotland’s Dundee United.
Subsequently, the Barcelonese soccer club paid tribute to Messi’s perseverance: Wearing the shirt number ten for the first time (historically given to the leading scorer), the number worn by former stars such as Romario Souza of Brazil, Hugo Sotil of Peru and Maradona, Messi began a new period in Barca, few weeks prior to 2008 the Summer Games.
Messi At the 2008 Beijing Olympics
Argentina earned its first soccer medal in the 1928 Amsterdam Games, after falling to Uruguay’s side in the gold-medal match. Then, the national contingent was asked to replace Uruguay in the 1976 Montreal Games, but it did not accept.
During the Centennial Games in the States, on August 3, 1996, the Argentine team was runner-up to Nigeria (sub-Saharan Africa)-matched its performance in the 1920s. In the 26th Olympiad, the silver medalists were Roberto Ayala, José Chamot, Javier Zanetti, Roberto Sensini and Diego Pablo Simeone, Ariel Ortega, Hernan Crespo, and Claudio López, among others footballers. Over the next years, by 2004, the Spanish-speaking republic placed first in the Athens XXVIII Summer Games upon their victory over Paraguay, a feat never before accomplished by a male squad from Argentina in the men’s soccer Olympic Cup.
Messi was Latin America’s top hope for a medal in the 2008 Olympiad. Nonetheless, there were troubles to send Messi to Beijing: his club did not approve his Olympic participation. After a long-running conflict between the Spaniard club and AFA (Argentinean Football Association), Messi was eligible to represent his nation in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where he won his second major global event following a convincing triumph over Nigeria, one of the most extraordinary results in the history of the Olympic Championship. It was interesting to note that Messi was a great Olympian champ in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Unlike Pele (Edson Arantes do Nascimento) -a long-standing senior player from Brazil– and Maradona, Messi has won an Olympic gold medal after Argentina defeated six countries in the men’s Olympian football championship in the Games of 29th Olympiad in mainland China, becoming the first world-class soccer player to win a trophy in the Modern Olympics since the early 1950s when Ferenc Puskas took the Hungarian team to its first Olympian title in the Finland Summer Games.
The Soccer Tournment included some strong names such as Brazil, Belgium, Holland,and Cote d’Ivoire.There, this Spanish-trained professional player also helped Argentina to win their second straight Olympic title; the nation’s fourth Olympian medal in men’s football. As well as earning the gold in the People’s Republic, Messi was regarded as one of Latin America’s foremost Olympic athletes. Nonetheless, his trophy was overshadowed by the wins of Michael Phelps, Usain Powell of Jamaica ( 3-time Olympic gold medalist ) and other champions.
After being part of the Olympic gold-winning squad in 2008, Messi won the world’s best footballer by FIFA ( the world’s governing body of soccer ).
In beginning 2009, Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Racing de Santander was one of Messi’s most notable matches, scoring both goals in the last 45 minutes. Messi entered the match when its club was defeated (0-1), but he confirmed his international status when he was able to break down a Santander defense. During the game, Spain’s team made its 5,000 goal with Messi.
After making worldwide headlines on Spaniard soil, he was a key player when his club had a convincing 6-2 win over Real Madrid at Santiago de Bernabu Stadium in Spain’s capital city— Without a doubt, one of the greatest games of Messi’s athletic career. As has traditionally been the case, this a match attracted several neutral fans across the globe. Messi’s other important achievement was when Barcelona’s side finished first in the unofficial event Joan Gamper Trophy for the third time in a row. In 2008, he came away with 10 individual awards.
His Play Speaks For Itself
By the time the 2009-10 season, Messi brought about a sporting revolution at Barcelona. Astonishingly, his side won all the championships. For these wins, some experts and sportswriters believe he is better than Maradona and Pele.
Upon claiming five prestigious competitions —the Champions League, the UEFA Supercup, the Spanish Cup (Copa del Rey), the National League, and the Spanish Supercup— Messi was able to lead Barcelona side to victory in the FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the turn of the 2009, becoming Spain’s most popular person and making Barcelona one of the world’s most successful clubs in football history. Apart from winning these events, he collected over 15 individual awards in the Americas, Persian Gulf, and Western Europe: World Football of the Year, Alfredo Di Stefano Trophy, World Selection, Best Player in the Club World Cup, and Champions Trophy, among other trophies.
In April 2010, one of the most interesting statistics came from Messi when he became Barcelona’s first footballer to score four goals in the Champions League-all against Arsenal F.C. Likewise, he made a name for himself in soccer world as he was Barcelona’s top scorer in the Champions League ( twenty-five goals). Later on, Messi helped the club to capture the Spanish league, as well as winning two special trophies as the Best Player.
Spain: The Best Domestic Football
Not all of Messi’s play was acclaimed in 2010. Despite the optimism following Messi’s strong performance in Western Europe, Argentine side was eliminated by Germany (0-4), allowing it to secure a top five position in the FIFA Global Tournament;one of Messi’s most disapponting results in this period.
The men’s football team of Argentina departed for Africa in the quest of their third Global Cup. From the beginning, Los Celestes entered the 2010 South Africa World Cup as a front-runner to win the title. Prior to being eliminated in the quaterfinals, the South American nation had four wins: Nigeria (1-0), South Korea (4-1), Greece (2-0), and Mexico (3-1). Ironically, the Spanish national team won the Global Cup for the first time.
Although one of the most prominent sportsmen in this Century, Messi has not won a World Cup (2006 & 2010). In sub-Saharan Africa, his production was poor: He did not score a single goal. Up to now, his results pale in comparison with Maradona and Pele.
In September 2010, Messi’s play captivated the audience, from experts and sportswriters to fans, setting new Spanish and European records. For the third consecutive time,the star player became top scorer in the Champions League. It was unbelievable. In the whole event, the sport’s greatest footballer was a “perfect machinery”. Spearheaded by its idol Messi, the Barcelonese club amassed two tournaments – The national tournament and then Champions League for the second successive year, sparking off celebrations in the Spaniard city of Barcelona. In the meantime, he gained the FIFA Ballon d’ Or. These wins have helped construct an excellent relationship between Messi and his fans inside and outside Spain. In his native country, however, there is another atmosphere.
Argentina’s side was upset by Brazil in the finals of the 2007 South American Cup (there Messi appeared in all six of his nation’s games). Four years later, the traditional event was held in Argentina. There, the host nation entered the regional contest, but it did not even make the semis. On the eve of that event, Argentina was a gold-medal contender well ahead of Brazil and Uruguay.
Unfortunately, Messi could not do anything. In spite of his extraordinary achievements in Western Europe, the amazing Latino player was unable to lead the Argentine side to win the Copa America for the second time, being strongly criticized by Argentina’s football fans.
The local squad had two draws with Bolivia (1-1) and Colombia (0-0) before defeating Costa Rica (3-0) and falling to eventual champion Uruguay (4-5) in the quarter-finals. In his own land,Messi did not score a single goal (except on a penalty) over the course of the Latin American championship. Undeterred, he departed for Spain.
Undoubtedly, some soccer fans don’t understand why Argentina’s national team can not win international tournaments with the world’s most prominent soccer player.
Spearheaded by Messi, the Barcelonese club captured the Spanish Supercup on in August 2011. With 8 goals, Messi was the top scorer in the national contest, ahead of Raúl González Blanco. Within a few weeks, they also won the European Supercup. On December 18, 2011, Barcelona won the Club World Cup by beating Brazil’s Santos (4-0). There, Messi was the tournament’s most valuable athlete. Astonishingly, Messi became the top scorer (236 goals) in Barca’s history on March 31, 2012.
An Advocate for the Rights of Children
Latin America’s remarkable football player Messi is regarded as Argentina’s long-standing advocate for the rights of poor children. By 2007, he created a self-named foundation,whose principal aim is to improve education and health care of the future generation of Argentina’s boys and girls. Recently named UN Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Messi works closely with the international organization, increasing global awareness and providing financial aid to programs for children and mothers on Earth.