Things That Matter

21 Facts About Lionel Messi You Never Imagined

Many experts and fans believe Lionel Messi is one of the best footballers in the world. Some believe he is the best since Diego Maradona. Messi has earned the title of Europe’s Ballon d’ Or a record-tying five times. He holds the single season scoring record. He’s captained FC Barcelona to the longest winning streak in La Liga history and over two dozen titles.

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In the summer of 2008, he helped the Argentina national team win an Olympic gold medal. Plus, he has become only the second player to score over 600 senior career goals. However, there are many factors that define his successes and disappointments. Here are 21 facts about Lionel Messi that make this soccer great a fascinating person.

 When a Flicker becomes a Flame

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Messi met his future wife when he was 5 years old. Her name his Antonella Roccuzzo. They met in their native town of Rosario. She is the cousin of Leo’s best childhood friend, Lucas Scalia. Ten years ago, they started a relationship that produced three sons: Thiago, Mateo and Ciro.

The Big Payoff

There was a time when the second highest paid athlete in the world would play for cookies. While he was an adolescent player at the Newell’s Old Boy’s club in Rosario, one of his youth coaches found that Leo had a fondness for alfajores. To motivate his young player, the coach offered him a deal of one cookie per goal.

 Salute to Grandma Celia

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Perhaps the greatest influence in Leo’s soccer career was his maternal grandmother, Celia. She introduced him to organized soccer. Celia persuaded the coaches to let her tiny grandson play with the bigger, older boys. This is why his goal celebration features a kiss to the heavens. It is a tribute to Celia. Sadly, Celia passed away when Leo was 10-years-old.

The Price of Growth is Change

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Shortly after Celia’s death, a physician diagnosed Leo with a growth-hormone deficiency. The treatment involved a painful, daily needle injection of medication. From his salary at the steel plant, his father, Jorge, paid for the expensive treatment for two years. The Newell club offered to help financially. Jorge agreed. When this arrangement did not pan out, Jorge sought out other options. The FC Barcelona club offered Leo a contract that included paying his medical bills.

His Mentor

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Early in Leo’s professional career, the great Ronaldinho became his mentor. This great player referred to the 16-year-old Leo as his “little brother.”

Atomic Speed

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Nicknamed the “Atomic Flea,” Leo Messi can run faster with the soccer ball than without it. Using a technique called, left foot “la pelota atada,” he can run a full speed with the ball positioned on his left foot.

The Ultimate Show of Respect

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In 2012, after breaking Gerd Muller’s 40-year-old record for most goals scored in a calendar year (85), Messi sent Muller a number 10 Barcelona jersey. He signed it, “With respect and admiration.”

That Quiet Charm

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Despite being far less flamboyant than Christiano Ronaldo or David Beckham, Messi is a mega-bankable athlete.  He placed second on the 2015-16 Forbes List of highest paid athletes. In 2018, France Football reported that he became the first player to eclipse the 100-million-euro threshold in one year.

That Elusive Prize

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On his website, Messi states, “I would trade all of my personal achievements just to win a World Cup with the national (Argentina) team.” The World Cup is the grand prize in the soccer world. His fans and his detractors will not let him forget it.

A Run-in With the Law

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A court in Catalonia ruled that Leo and his father were guilty of tax evasion. The court issued Jorge a 21-month suspended sentence and a half million euro fine. It ordered Leo to pay a € 2 million fine. 

 A Kid’s Champion

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Leo Messi is a child advocate. In 2007, he established a charitable program that makes health care, sport and education available to underprivileged youth. He has been a UNICEF ambassador since 2010.

Best Buds

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Leo’s best friend is Sergio Aguero, an Argentinian soccer player and actor. When he first met Messi, he was fascinated by the Messi’s fancy boots.

Grabbing the Gold

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Messi was on the 2008 Argentinian team that won an Olympic gold medal. He provided the assist that sealed the win over the Nigerian team.

The Early Start

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Leo was only 17 when he started his professional career. He became the youngest player, at that time, to represent Barcelona in official competition. He signed his first pro contract at age 18.

Daddy Knows Best

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Most top pro footballers use high powered sports agents to negotiate their contracts. Leo defies that logic by having his father serve as his agent in all financial dealings.

What Goes Around, Comes Around

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Leo may end his career where he started out. The hard feelings between the star player and Newell’s have soften over time. Messi has had plans to end his career with the home club for a long time.

A Big Omission

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Messi has had a long, successful relationship with FC Barcelona. However, there are some signs that Leo’s relationship with the organization is fading. None of the club’s coaches or board of directors were invited to his 2017 wedding to Antonella. Goal.com reported that even his favorite coach, Pep Guardiola, did not attend.

Royal Pairing

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In 2013, Messi starred in a Turkish airline advertisement with Kobe Bryant. Their mock selfie competition became the most-watched ad on YouTube that year.

I am Who I am

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Leo turned down an opportunity to play for the Spanish national team because he sees himself as an Argentinian. Conversely, many Argentinian fans consider him a Spaniard.

As Good as the Paper It is Written On

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Leo’s first pro contract was written on a napkin. Barcelona coach, Carles Rexach, was so blown away with the young man’s talents, he wrote up the contract on the first piece of paper he could find.

Off Limits

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Messi’s buyout clause is € 250 million. It is a clear sign that FC Barcelona is saying “bug off’ to the competition.

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UPS Delivery Man Is Fired After Video Surfaces of His Anti-Latino Racist Rant

Things That Matter

UPS Delivery Man Is Fired After Video Surfaces of His Anti-Latino Racist Rant

Photo courtesy Forward Latino

An unnamed UPS delivery driver has been fired after being caught using racist language when delivering a package to a Latino household. The incident occurred on December 17th.

The video, which was caught on a doorbell camera’s security footage, shows a white UPS driver appearing to be angry when delivering a package.

“Now you don’t get f—–g nothing…You can’t read and write and speak the f—–g English language,” he says while writing a “failed to deliver” notice and pasting it on the house’s front door.

The Aviles family says that the footage shows that the UPS worker never even attempted to deliver the package in the first place. He never rang the doorbell or knocked on the door. Based on that, the family has come to the conclusion that the driver intentionally withheld the package from the family out of prejudice and spite

They believe that the only way the driver could’ve known that the family was Latino was by making assumptions based off the name on the package.

“The only information this driver had that could serve as a trigger for this deep-seated hate was the name on the package,” said Forward Latino President Darryl Morin at a press conference addressing the incident.

“So what we have here is a very intentional act to ruin Christmas for somebody, for someone to spew this hateful rhetoric, and quite honestly to deceive their employer,” Morin continued.

Per UPS, the employee has now been fired. “There is no place in any community for racism, bigotry or hate. This is very serious and we promptly took action, terminating the driver’s employment. UPS is wholeheartedly committed to diversity, equity and inclusion,” UPS said in a statement. They also said they contacted the family to apologize.

But the Aviles family is still rattled that such bigoted people are out and about, letting their petty prejudices effect other people’s lives.

“The package was a Christmas gift that we eventually received after Christmas Day, but what if it happened to have time-sensitive content like an epipen or a book I needed to take a final,” said Shirley Aviles, the mother of the man who lives at the address, told NBC News. “I don’t get it. It’s just sad.”

Aviles seemed disturbed about what this incident says about human nature. “This is about the things people do when they think no one is watching them. That’s important because that’s when you see people’s true colors and that’s what’s scary,”

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Here Are Some Christmas Traditions From Around Latin America

Culture

Here Are Some Christmas Traditions From Around Latin America

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Christmas is a special time of year. Families have their traditions to mark the festive year and some of those traditions are rooted in culture. Here are some of the ways various countries in Latin America celebrate Christmas.

El Pase Del Niño Viajero – Ecuador

El Pase del Niño Viajero is a pageant that happens in Ecuador that lasts weeks. The parade is meant to represent the journey of Mary and Joseph. The parade highlights the religious importance of Christmas in Ecuador and is most common in the Andean region of the country.

The biggest and most important parade is in Cuenca, a deeply religious city. Citizens near the city have all day to see the parade as it starts in the early morning and runs through the late afternoon. This gives people a lot of time to make it to the city to witness the parade.

La Gritería – Nicaragua

La Gritería comes after La Purisma. La Purisma is celebrated at the end of November and is meant to celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. La Gritería is celebrated in early December and involves literal yelling. Someone would shout “Que causa tanta alegria?” (“What causes so much happiness?”) People respond “La Concepción de María.” (“Mary’s Conception.”)

Las Posadas – Mexico

Mexican posadas are the most recognizable. Posadas take place in Mexico from Dec. 16-24, though this year they are most likely to be virtual. The posada begins with a procession in the neighborhood filled with people singing and sometimes led by two people dressed as Mary and Joseph.

Another part is the posada party. Before guests can enter, there is a song exchange with the people outside playing Joseph looking for shelter. The hosts sing the side of the innkeeper saying there is no room. Eventually, the guests are welcomed into the home to celebrate Christmas.

Aguinaldos – Colombia

Aguinaldos are a series of games played by people in Colombia leading up to Christmas. There are certain games that are common among people in Colombia. One is pajita en boca, which requires holding a straw in your mouth the entire time of a social event. Another is dar y no recibir, which is about getting people to take something you are giving to score a point.

El Quema Del Diablo – Guatemala

El quema del diablo is celebrated in early December and is a way of letting go of the previous year. People burn piñatas and effigies of the devil to let go of all negative feelings and moments from the previous year. If there was every to try a new tradition, this would be the year. Burn an effigy and banish 2020 to the past, where it belongs.

READ: These Seriously Sad Christmas Presents Were Worse Than Actual Coal

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