Local non-hero
October 9, 2012 8:00 AM   Subscribe

Lionel Messi is one of the world's greatest soccer players. So why is he forgotten in his own home town?
posted by Chrysostom (15 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
tl;dr version: Because he left at 13, and has never won anything for Argentina.
posted by Skeptic at 8:03 AM on October 9, 2012 [7 favorites]

Skeptic: he also hasn't come back and kissed the badge, enthusiastically sung the anthem etc. He's been Othered.
posted by jaduncan at 8:12 AM on October 9, 2012

That web site renders awfully in Chrome.
posted by dfriedman at 8:37 AM on October 9, 2012

A compelling piece of sports writing but it does indeed render awfully in Chrome, so bad I had to read the print link
posted by Damienmce at 8:46 AM on October 9, 2012

If he were Tidi, I'm sure it would be different.
posted by scruss at 8:48 AM on October 9, 2012

The only time the others really engaged was when Paul mentioned Ronaldo, the flamboyant striker for Real Madrid

There's hardly a journalist left who, at the mention of the man, doesn't make sure to add some wink wink codeword qualifying adjective. Sigh.

Also, Messi is such a waste of good football on a non entity. Charismatically speaking.
posted by Marauding Ennui at 8:49 AM on October 9, 2012

I think that Argentina's relationship to Messi, at the risk of anthropomorphizing a whole nation, is that of someone who's madly in love with someone who doesn't appear to know you exist. Argentines deeply, madly want to love Messi but he has never given them the kind of declaration of love that would resonate. So they deny feverishly that they have ever thought of him, cared about him, or touched themselves while thinking about him.

I remember watching a game at the 2011 Copa América with Argentina, I think it was the Costa Rica game, where Messi was just amazing. He completely ran the whole match by himself. He was as good then as he's ever been for anyone. The crowd kind of fell silent for a while, and then a low, rumbling chant of Mmmmeeesssiii, Mmmmeeesssiii, Mmmmeeesssiii, filled the whole stadium. It made my spine tingle.

As the article hints at, Argentina is finally acknowledging its love for Messi, and I think that unless Argentina flame out spectacularly at the 2014 World Cup, Messi will become the national hero every Argentine wants him to be.
posted by Kattullus at 9:14 AM on October 9, 2012 [5 favorites]

I wonder how his international and pro career would have turned out if he was signed by a club other than Barca, particularly given the construct (team first, little individual glory) of Barca during his "formative" years.

Thanks for the link.
posted by kuanes at 9:36 AM on October 9, 2012

There's hardly a journalist left who, at the mention of the man, doesn't make sure to add some wink wink codeword qualifying adjective. Sigh.

I don't think that's true, but I also don't think it's surprising in a guy who straight up admits he is obsessed with Messi.
posted by jacalata at 9:55 AM on October 9, 2012

I've moved around a lot. Where would my hometown be? I've always wondered that. It wouldn't be where I was born, surely, I was only there for three years.

Hometowns don't mean much if you didn't spend your entire childhood there.
posted by Malice at 11:30 AM on October 9, 2012

Then Jesus told them, "A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family."
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:38 AM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I love (on pitch) Messi and so I started this article with a feeling of interest. I don't know if it's just me but it increasingly turned to unease, as the whole thing became rather creepy and stalker-ish.

I don't know why - I suppose many journalistic/biographical pieces are or were researched like this and I've never felt creeped out at hundreds of other pieces quoting an aunt or an old school teacher here and painting a word picture of a childhood street there.

But somehow this one really seemed strange. The speculation of what's inside his head coupled with the voyeuristic tinge to his Rosario explorations seemed to add up to this stalkery "this dude is determined to get into someone's brain without being invited" vibe. I finished the article with a small sense of shame at having finished it.
posted by Slyfen at 12:49 PM on October 9, 2012

tl;dr version: Because he left at 13, and has never won anything for Argentina.

To be fair, at Barcelona he had Guardiola coaching him and Iniesta and Xavi behind him. For Argentina at the WC2010 he had a 35-year-old Veron, a 22-year-old Di Maria, Maxi Rodriguez and Mascherano in midfield, but, far more importantly, Diego Maradona coaching.
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:53 PM on October 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Because Maradona, that's why.

Because Argentinian football is still defined by the silhouette of Maradona in 1978 and Maradona in 1986 and Maradona in various states of health and coherence ever since.
posted by holgate at 10:21 PM on October 9, 2012

I agree with what Slyfen said: definitely creepy, also with a tinge of sadness (which I think is exactly what the writer was going for, making Messi seem a lot sadder than he probably is probably makes for more interesting reading). If I were famous and reporters kept showing up at every place I'd ever taken a shit, asking everyone whose ever had any role in my life personal questions about me, I'd be careful what I said and seem a bit withdrawn too.

Also, US sports writers, newscasters, etc can never seem to hide their disdain/misunderstanding of the game no matter how much they prepare, study or "know".

Always, some comment, intonation,
inappropriate laugh betrays their adopted 'love' of the game and unfamiliarity with the culture of the sport, making it seem like they'd rather be reporting on American football or something.
posted by tbonicus at 1:52 AM on October 10, 2012

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