While many FC Barcelona football tickets are bought by those wanting to see the marvels of Ronaldinho and Eto’o at the Nou Camp, one of the most exciting young players to regularly grace the line up of FC Barcelona is the Argentinean player Lionel Messi.
While highly regarded in the Nou Camp, his profile has been lower than the two previously mentioned players until now; but perhaps the beginning of the end of his relative low-profile happened last week when he scored an amazing goal in a match against Getafe in the Copa del Rey – the King’s Cup.
The match – in which Barcelona beat Getafe 5-2 – saw two goals from Messi, as well as Xavi, Eto’o and Gudjohnsen, but it is the Messi’s first goal in particular that people are talking about nearly a week after the event.
In an almost move for move reproduction of Maradona’s “goal of the century” against England in the 1986 World Cup semi-final – English fans will never forgive Maradona scoring off a handball in the same match, dubbed by Maradona himself as “the hand of God” – Leo Messi received the ball from Xavi, beat a total of five Getafe players and then knocked the ball past the goalkeeper into the net, running a distance of 63 metres in doing so.
Naturally Messi is being compared with Diego Maradona, to whom he dedicated the goal, and if you watch the two goals side by side the similarities are eerie.
Although Messi’s star is currently shining bright, the future for the young player was at one time looking bleak. Diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency when he was eleven years old, a time when the Argentinean economy was in meltdown, neither his family nor the club that had expressed an interest in him, Club Atletico River Plate, were unable to afford the treatment.
However, his family jumped at the chance of starting a new life in Spain when Catalan giants FC Barcelona stepped in with an offer that included all medical expenses and he quickly flourished in Barcelona’s youth team. Since becoming a first team regular he has become a firm favourite and puts his talent to good use against some of the top teams in the league, including arch-rivals Real Madrid.
Although the comparison with Maradona unfair at this early stage in his career, providing Lionel Messi can remain motivated and injury free then he could easily join the ranks of the football greats.