Lionel Messi: Soccer’s Superstar
Lionel Messi is one of the world’s best soccer players. The Argentinean-born footballer currently plays for the Spanish champion FC Barcelona. His skills have already earned him a fortune. The 23-year old Messi is said to have a contract that gives him about 50 million dollars a year.
Messi’s coach Pep Guardiola says it is difficult to describe why Messi is so outstanding. He has the instinct needed to score against world class defenders in every match. The way he leads the ball is phenomenal. It often seems that the ball is connected to his foot.
Messi came to Barcelona from Argentina at the age of 13. The club agreed to help him overcome his small height by paying for a growth hormone treatment. Even today, at 5 feet and 7 inches he is surely not one of the tallest in the soccer world.
Together with Xavi and Iniesta, the three make up the centerpiece of Barcelona’s offensive hurricane. All three of them graduated from the club’s football youth academy, which has become a model for clubs around the world.
“Nobody plays the way Messi does”, says a leading Argentinean sports journalist. “He is like a child, not interested in tactics and winning. He just wants to play and enjoy it. “
Lionel Messi in action
Lionel Messi has contributed a lot to make FC Barcelona one of the best teams in the world. Within 18 days the team played four top-level matches against archrival Real Madrid. The Madrid side tried everything to take Messi out of play but in the most important match, the first leg of the European Champions League semifinal Messi scored both goals in Madrid.
Lionel Messi has always been a shy person, as a boy and now as a soccer superstar. When Barcelona celebrated winning the Spanish championship Messi appeared on the sidelines as his teammates danced on the pitch.
Messi is often compared to other great soccer players, like Pele or Maradona. The two superstars of the last century however played a different game. At that time soccer was slower and you had more time and space to control the ball. Today everything happens in full speed and without a lot of space.
Even though Messi is one of the focal points of the Barcelona game, he never really plays that well in his Argentinean national team. Although he got his team through to the quarterfinals of the 2010 World Cup he failed at scoring the goals needed to defeat Germany.
He does not have a close relationship with his country because he left Argentina when he was a teenager. In the country of his birth Maradona is still the top star. Born in the slums Maradona, in contrast to Messi, led a confused and hectic life. He had failure and success, but was brilliant as a player. In 1986 he won the World Cup with Argentina. Lionel Messi isn’t there yet but he has the talent to achieve what Maradona had before him.
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- achieve = reach, get, do
- agree = to say yes
- although = while
- appear = come into view, show
- archrival = a team that you always want to win against, sometimes because they think they are better than you
- brilliant = very good
- celebrate = to have a party
- centerpiece = focus, attraction
- century = a hundred years
- champion = the best team in a country
- championship = competition in which teams play against each other to find out which one is the best
- close relationship = here: to feel strongly about; to be connected with a country’s life and culture
- coach = someone who trains a person or a team in sports
- confused = here: with good and bad sides
- connect = link, attach to
- contract = a written agreement
- contribute = add, give
- currently = at the moment
- defeat = to win against
- defender = person who tries to guard their own goal from the other team
- describe = explain why
- even though = while
- fail = not succeed
- failure = breakdown, collapse
- focal = central, important
- fortune = a lot of money, wealth
- full speed = very fast
- graduate = to finish successfully
- growth hormone treatment = to give someone chemicals so they can control how fast they grow
- in contrast to = different than
- lead = direct, control
- leading = top, number one
- leg = part
- out of play = here: not to let him play his game
- outstanding = much better than the others
- overcome = to fight or win against, defeat
- pitch = a soccer field
- quarterfinals = the last eight teams in a tournament
- score = to make a goal
- shy = a person who does not want to have many contacts and does not want to talk a lot
- skill = talent
- side = team
- sidelines = outside the lines that form the edge of the field
- slum = parts of a city with bad houses , where very poor people live
- soccer = European football
- success = victory, to be a winner
- top-level = here: the two best teams in Spain