Argentine born Lionel Messi, three-time FIFA player of the year, is on the cover of this week's Time, but only if you buy it in Europe, Asia or the South Pacific. The United States cover is actually devoted to The Power of Shyness.
‘King Leo’ Messi, 24, whose FC Barcelona team played to a 2-2 tie against Real Madrid last Wednesday, was interviewed by Time's Bobby Ghosh in Barcelona. He described Messi as the shining star of my favourite team.
Messi who has spent half his life in Spain says he loves Argentina but yet has to see his dream of leading his country to lift the World Cup.
In the interview Messi also speaks of the sacrifices made to reach where he stands undisputedly.
I never thought about sacrifice. I always thought I wanted to play professionally, and I always knew that to do that I'd have to make a lot of sacrifices. I made sacrifices by leaving Argentina, leaving my family to start a new life. I changed my friends, my people. Everything. But everything I did, I did for football, to achieve my dream. That's why I didn't go out partying, or a lot of other things.
Soccer pros and fans alike love nothing more than to rank players, past and present. It's generally perceived that the top two players in history hail from South America: the brilliant Brazilian Pelé and the more tragic figure of Messi's fellow Argentine Diego Maradona, who single-handedly (at times literally if you recall his hand of God goal) won the World Cup in 1986.
Maradona's international team mate, Ossie Ardiles, believes that Messi has already eclipsed these two legends of the game.
I think he's certainly the best player of his generation. And I definitely believe not only that but he's the best player in the history of football. Ardiles adds, To be perfectly honest, I thought I would never encounter anybody in the same league because Diego was a genius.
But his justification for Messi being the more accomplished player is practical. One of the reasons I think Messi is better than Maradona and Pelé is evolution. People before say Pelé was running 5,000, 6,000 meters. Now they are running 9,000 meters. Now players eat better, train better, the pitches are better. So this is why I believe Messi is the very best ever.
Funny that Messi is arguably one of the most popular and influential athletes on the planet, but is largely ignored in the US except for those who embrace the beautiful game.
Bloomberg/BusinessWeek released its list of most powerful athletes earlier this week. The only soccer players to make the list: No. 55 Landon Donovan; 58, David Beckham; 79, Abby Wambach and 88, Hope Solo.