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A Tribute To The “Harry Potter” of football!

I think we can all agree on a definition: a wizard is someone who uses or practices magic that derives from supernatural sources. Wizards are common figures in fantasy literature, portrayed as heroes or villains, wielding great powers (usually arising from their study, based on innate talent), shaping the fantasy world. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

When portrayed as heroes, they often appear as wise old men and act as mentors (e.g. Gandalf, Merlin, Dumbledore); yet the wizarding world is witnessing an abundance of young talented wizards rising to prominence.

In this article, I will tell you about the “Harry Potter” of the beautiful game: Lionel Messi. You all know his story: diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency at 11, transferred to Barcelona (the club paid all his medical bills), graduated La Masia Academy of Wizardry, became a friend and apprentice of the magician Ronaldinho, the metamorphosis into the world’s best contemporary player, owner of the Leo Messi Foundation and so forth.

As I watched Barcelona’s monologue against Arsenal on Tuesday night, I was pleased to see the young wizard playing his heart out once again and couldn’t help wondering: will he ever empty his seemingly endless bag of magic, as many other players? Or will he become one of the greatest wizards in the history of fantasy football?

Seeing him score against Arsenal in the first half, I took the time to remember his first goal scored in a Barcelona shirt: that goal against Albacete! Ronaldinho chipped the ball over Albacete’s defence and Messi chipped it over the goalkeeper (click on the video below):

Messi\’s goal vs Albacete on Youtube

In the summer of 2008, Messi inherited Ronaldinho’s no. 10 jersey, succesfully completing his apprenticeship. Messi quickly became the new king of Barcelona.

So far, the young sorcerer has scored 172 goals and provided 70 assists in 254 games (45 goals and 21 assists in 40 games this season only). As a manager, what more can you ask from him? He’s the “Captain Tsubasa” of Barcelona.

Being a hero (and do not forget, that heroes burn sooner or later), he was criticized (e.g. last season’s performance vs Inter, his performances for the national team), compared (on a daily-basis, especially to Cristiano Ronaldo), kicked (e.g Del Horno at Stamford Bridge, Sergio Ramos in Barcelona’s 5-0 win), booed etc. Yet, he manages day-in-and-day-out to impress fans, managers and players all over the world. Yes, he has the whole world at his feet! If I would be a manager, I would definitely want him in my team.

For most of the season, especially at Camp Nou, he is unstoppable. Ask Mourinho, ask Wenger. His fairytale love affair with Barcelona seems endless. Yet, we must not forget several ideas:

  1. the whole “Mes que un club” part is a business. A multi-million (at least) euro business. The fans must never forget that!
  2. Do not be surprised if one day the club decides to cash in the money.
  3. If he stops scoring, gets injured, becomes complacent, etc., he’s history! Remember Dinho a couple of years ago: every single fan loved the guy. As soon as his performances dropped, the fans loved him no more. Now, that’s true love!
  4. The “kwan” (as Cuba Gooding Jr. defined it) could transform him into a villain.

Should one day his fairytale end, please remember to cherish him as you do know! For the moment, as a fan, I am enjoying his game. Yes, he has Xavi and Iniesta in the team, but so what? He scores for fun! Look at Tuesday’s game: scored two and could have had a couple of assists. He outperformed the whole Arsenal team in every way he could. Now, that’s a wizard! He clearly shapes the fantasy football played by Barcelona. What I find even more impressive is that he seems to consider football as his playing ground.

Speaking about Arsenal:

A) I have a tremendous respect for Arsene Wenger, although he will probably never win the Champions League – at least with Arsenal we won’t. His eye for talent is known worldwide, he even managed to lure Fabregas in London. Why didn’t he lure Messi as well? Yes, I reckon there’s a possibility Messi will fail if he joins a Premier League club (an idea embraced by a lot of football-critics). But under the tutelage of Arsene Wenger, he could have been as great as he is under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola.

B) It seems to me that the team doesn’t have an influential leader anymore (like Vieira & Henry used to be).

C) In the final of the 2006 Uefa Champions League tournament, Arsenal played most of the match in 10, yet they outplayed Barcelona (it could have been 2-0 at least). On Tuesday, I thought I was watching Barcelona vs Almeria. Don’t you agree?

As a conclusion, Pep’s guys are amazing. Especially, the little one! Regardless of the outcome of this season and the following seasons, one must not forget that Lionel Messi is a world-class magician.  The fans must not forget Messi, as they did with Ronaldinho (perhaps the most talented / skillful player of all time – just a humble opinion)!

Regardless of our football affinities (e.g. Real Madrid, Manchester United, Milan), we all must be thankful to have had the opportunity to watch Messi play football.

A standing ovation for the “Harry Potter” of football!

NOTE: this article is dedicated to my good friend Laura, who is Messi’s biggest fan!!

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