Hello Moms and Dads ! Here’s a bedtime story for your little ones! Happy-end guaranteed!
Once upon a time, a little prince was born far away, in the small town of Rosario. His father wasn’t king, and his mother wasn’t some prince’s daughter either; both of them were hard-working people and didn’t live in a big castle, but in a small house in Crandoli, with their two older children, Rodrigo and Matias.
Nevertheless, there was happiness galore, for despite the parents lack of richness(Jorge Messi, was a factory steel worker and Celia, a part-time cleaner), there was so much love and caring that Leo the little prince , didn’t need golden crowns or royal treats to be happy.
His favorite toy was a cheap one; just a ball, but a football one of course, because his country Argentina, was a football nation, ruled by a king named Diego Maradona and Argentine children learnt to play the game before even start reading and writing !
Football was the King in Messi family, too; the father was part-time coach and his two older sons were also practising the sport. Leo started kicking the ball when he was still a toddler imitating his brothers and playing with them fearless, despite his small size.
Leo began playing in Grandoli’s Sports Centre at four; Grandoli’s pitch was the image of his home downtrodden suburb: only some patches of grass were bravely surviving to the boys ups and downs nourishing dreams for a better future and glory.
The Centre’s coach Oscar Lopez, was putting on a new team and they were missing one player, so he asked Leo’s mother if it would be OK to put him in. Celia laughed and said no, mainly because of the size of the older boys, but Leo’s grandmother asked her to change her mind and so the Little Prince came on and started playing with some stones seemingly unaware of the game and the other boys.
Nevertheless, when the ball came his way, he jumped up, controlled it and started dribbling away. He didn’t score this day, but he did in the next game and afterwards he couldn’t stop. Everyone wanted to play against him, try to stop that goal machine , but that was quite hard to achieve, for it seemed that the little one was able to create a picture of what he wanted to do in his mind and then make it real on the pitch.
Since then, the little prince never stopped kicking balls, stones and coca cans, dazzling his schoolmates during break time. Football became his favorite occupation, he was glued to his ball, not even joining his two brothers and younger sister ‘s fun games in the paddling pool!
The family home was situated very near to Leo’s primary school, Escuela N° 66 ; a five minutes walk across some football pitches, a short journey would you say , but not for the small boy, always keen to play a pass or two on his way to learn writing, reading and trying to comprehend mathematics’ tortuous ways !
His maths teacher Andrea Sosa, remembers fondly his former pupil who even if he wasn’t brilliant, had always his homework promptly done. Leo rarely spoke, was he shy, because he was the smallest child in the classroom ?
Shyness because of his height is not a surprise, though; his small stature was the boy’s and his parents concern, but Leo wasn’t a bad pupil . Here’s the end of-school report at the age of 11- when the children are marked out of 10 for each subject: 6/10 for maths, Spanish and Sciences, 8/10 for Music and Art ( after all he is a football artist, isn’t he ?) and of course 10/10 Physical (Sport)Education.
As his reputation grew in the Youth Football microcosm, Leo was spotted by Newell’s Old Boys and Claudio Vivas, who was working for Argentina’s future Manager, Marcelo Bielsa. No hesitation there; the small boy played like an alien, dribbling with the ball so closely, giving the impression of someone who had be given years of training in how to do it.
A hundred goals in one season plus the perfect attitude of the youngster in and out of the pitch, weren’t alas enough to help the boy’s future in professional football and Messi’s parents knew that something had to be done to help their child grow up several centimetres. So, Jorge and Celia took their nine-year old son, to child growth specialist, Dr Diego Schwarzstein.
After a careful examination, the doctor’s diagnosis was that the boy had a growth hormone deficiency and to cure him would be a long everyday battle. Leo needed a daily injection to help him grow; his mom did the first one, but afterwards Leo did them himself and his hand didn’t tremble! The result, was amazing ! Soon he needed new shoes and trousers and this “ordinary” thing made him sooo happy !
Increasing the boy’s height and making him happy, had a price; at first this heavily expensive treatment, was paid by the Argentine government, but after the country’s economic crash, there was no money to continue the injections and Little Prince’s family was too poor to pay for them. Was he cursed, by some evil spirit? It’s well-known that some witches are happy only when they bring unhappiness to nice people! Maybe… just maybe, a fairy godmother was just around the corner, waving her magic wand ?
Well, magic wands if they exist are not easy to find, but the fairy godmother was truly in place. No magic wand or any miraculous potion, but an airplane ticket to Barcelona, in Spain. Catalonia’s famous football club, Barça wanted him for a trial and if the deal was concluded, they’d agree to pay for Leo’s treatment.
So our little prince took not his white horse, but a silver plane to take him and his family to the other side of the world, leaving behind his friends, his sweetheart and all his childhood memories. A giant step to the Unkown, but the fairies were always with him.
His treatment was a success and he became the best footballer in the whole world. He still works hard, as he always did. His family is always present in his life, protecting him, shielding their precious Little Prince, as they used to do, in the old days.
Some years later his sweetheart came to join him and they lived happily ever after!
Leo’s first interview (aged 12) published to Rosario’s local newspaper, LA CAPITAL
An Idol : Two. My dad Jorge and my godfather Claudio
A Dream : Play for Argentina
A Sadness : My grandma’s death
A Book : The Bible
A Career : PE Teacher
Humility : Is something that you should never lose
Categories: Bedtime Stories