World Soccer Legends
Everything you need to know about most exciting clubs and the best players on the planet.
Learn all about Messi from his soccer debut at the age of five to his favorite food to the famous singer he’s named after
Obstacles he’s overcome on his path to winning FIFA’s highest honors
Action shots and tactical breakdowns of his epic goals
Fun facts and all the stats on the “Flea of La Masia!”
A portion of the book’s proceeds are donated to the Hugo Bustamante AYSO Playership Fund, a national scholarship program to help ensure that no child misses the chance to play AYSO Soccer. Donations cover the cost of registration and a uniform for a child in need. AYSO Soccer is a family experience and an opportunity to create memories for a lifetime. The positive environment of AYSO is the right place for kids to learn soccer, but it’s also where they learn important life lessons, social skills and get active.
About the Author
Illugi Jökulsson is a journalist, editor, and author based in Iceland.
Read an Excerpt
When Messi was a boy his grandmother used to take care of him while his parents were at work. She would often take his older brothers to soccer practice and Messi would tag along. He had just started playing with the ball at home and was obviously talented and passionate. However, he was rather short for his age and not very powerfully built.
One day one of the teams was missing one player. It’s not clear whether it was the coach or Messi’s grandmother who suggested that little Messi should play with the older boys, but he was led to the field. He was shy and timid but wanted to play with the ball.
Messi’s grandmother and the coach decided that it would be best to have him play along the sideline so it would be easy to call him off the field if the older boys hurt him and made him cry.
The first time the balled passed to Messi nothing happened. He caught the ball with his right foot and didn’t know what to do with it. The ball just bounced away. But the next time he caught the ball with his left foot and the little guy took off. Messi surged down the field with the ball and when one of the big boys came running to take the ball off him, little Messi dodged him easily.
The coach figured he got lucky and yelled at Messi to pass the ball. But the boy just kept on running, taking on one player after another. None of them managed to get the ball off him. His grandmother and the coach watched in awe. They both knew that they’d witnessed the birth of a new genius.
At the age of five Messi started to play with a small club coached by his dad in Rosario called Grandoli. Soccer fever ran deep within the close-knit Messi family. Soon stories of the talented youngster spread and in 1995 he was training with Newell’s Old Boys, the largest club in Rosario.
Everyone could see that the boy had great potential. The trouble was that he didn’t seem to grow normally and was by far the smallest boy his age. It turned out that he suffered from growth-hormone deficiency and chances were that he would always be very short. And obviously far too small to make it to the very top.
The solution was to give Messi daily hormone injections. He didn’t enjoy it but he bit the bullet and from the age of nine Messi could give himself the injections. He started to grow again but the shots were expensive and the Messi family didn’t have the means to pay for them. Newell’s Old Boys covered the costs.
In 2000 Argentina suffered a bad financial crash, similar to the one that would hit globally in 2008. Money disappeared; everyone had to cut back on spending. Newell’s Old Boys could no longer afford to pay for Messi’s hormone injections. The boy was thirteen years old and still very small for his age. He would likely never grow to his full height.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Messi and Argentina...8
Simply the Best!...10
Where Is He From?...12
The Little Lion, Crab, and Rabbit...14
Silver in the First Attempt...16
Two Gold Medals...18
The Triumphant Barça...24
The Flea of La Masia...26
An Epic Goal!...32
Lacking the Clincher...34
Youngest Player in the World Cup...36
Even the Mighty Fall...38
An Amazing Run for Barcelona...40
The Golden Boy!...42
91 Goals in One Year!...44
How Tall Is He?...54
Learn More! / Glossary...60
The Messi Board Game!...62