El Pibe de Oro. The Golden Boy. Diego Maradona’s unwaning shadow looms large over world football. In 2007 the brilliant Argentine chose Lionel Messi as his successor to the famous No. 10 shirt. But you can never be sure that potential will be fulfilled.
Three years later, Messi — El Pulga, the Flea — is a European Champion, Olympic Gold Medallist, the most naturally gifted footballer on the planet and a hero to millions of fans across the globe. Champions, reporters and coaches blunder time and time again in their haste to find superstars. This time they got it right.
Aged only 22, he shows a degree of maturity rarely seen on the soccer pitch. Yet underneath the layers of footballing brilliance, he is still the shy boy who describes his Maradona moment with disarming simplicity: ‘I saw the gap and I went for it.’ Transcending both club and country, he is a sporting god who prefers homemade cookies to brand name perfumes.
Author Luca Caioli draws on exceptional testimonies. Messi’s parents, Celia and Jorge, his bother Rodrigo and his uncles and aunts; his coaches at Grandoli and Newell’s Old Boys; Charly Rexach, Alex García, Frank Rjikaard, Gianluca Zambrotta from Barcelona; Hugo Tocalli, Pancho Ferrero, el Coco Basile, Roberto Perfumo from Argentina. And to conclude, Leo Messi himself sizes up his life so far.