Unstoppable – Stockton and Malone Seek the 2003 NBA Championship

Karl Malone set the screen, John Stockton hit the game-winning three-point shot at the buzzer, and they were finally on their way. The Utah Jazz had just defeated the Houston Rockets in Game 6 of the 1997 Western Conference Finals, advancing to the NBA Finals for the first time ever. Coach Jerry Sloan, referring to then 35-year-old Stockton playing in his 13th season and then 33-year-old Malone playing in his 12th season, commented on how they had done it. «These guys have been criticized the last few years for not getting to where we’re going, but I’ve always said that the most important thing in sports is to keep trying. Let this be an example of what it means to say it’s never over.»

«It’s never over» when you «keep trying,» or in other words when you -never quit. In their quest for the NBA championship, be assured in 2003 that this year’s playoffs are no different from any other -John Stockton and Karl Malone will never quit.

For any NBA player, the ultimate goal is to win the NBA championship because winning the championship means winning the title of ‘champion.’ ‘Champion’ is the most sought-after title for anyone because the word itself means ‘unstoppable.’ Of the 29 league-teams that compete for the championship annually there can only be one team that will win it, only one team that will not be stopped. The 12 players on the team that does win it in that particular year are the only ones who were not stopped. Championship-winning players can claim they are unstoppable for the rest of their lives because they are champions for the rest of their lives. Nothing can ever take that title away from them.

Champion-boxer Muhammad Ali said it best when describing the importance of becoming a champion. «I hated every minute of the training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'»

John Stockton and Karl Malone too are champions for one simple reason: both are unstoppable.

Before the 1997 NBA Finals, Stockton and Malone had been criticized for not reaching it as Sloan commented. Now, six years later since they lost their first NBA Finals appearance against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in 1997, and five years later since their second appearance in 1998, they have received criticism for not winning it. Without the championship it seems they are stoppable because they have not won the title of ‘champion.’ However, what their critics fail to realize is Stockton and Malone have not been stopped.

Stockton and Malone have remarkably led the Jazz to the playoffs every season of their careers. Stockton has made 18 consecutive appearances, starting in his rookie season of 1984-85; the Mailman has made 17 straight appearances, beginning with his first season of 1985-86. They hold the record for most playoff appearances without winning a championship. They also hold the record for playing in the most playoff games without winning a championship; Stockton has played in 177 games and Malone has played in 167 games. No other player in NBA history has been to the playoffs as many years or played in as many postseason games without winning the championship as Stockton or the Mailman.

No other player in NBA history has gotten back up as many times either.

«The greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after the fall,» Super Bowl-champion coach Vince Lombardi once said.

That is the «greatest accomplishment» of them all because it is the most difficult of them all. It is easy to get back up when you are winning because you are already up. To get back up when you are down -that is the hard part. To get back up again and again when you are down again and again -that is the hardest part.

Winning is difficult; it only comes to those who perform the «greatest accomplishment.» All of Stockton and Malone’s individual and team successes have resulted from never quitting.

Winning individually, as Jazz fans know, Stockton and Malone have become arguably the greatest players ever to play their positions. Briefly stated, Stockton is arguably the greatest point-guard ever because he is the all-time assist and steals leader. No one else has ever done that. The Mailman is arguably the greatest power-forward ever because he is currently the all-time second-leading scorer. No other forward has ever done that.

Winning as a team, Stockton and Malone have led Utah to become one of the most winning franchises ever. During the Stockton-to-Malone era the Jazz have had 11 seasons of 50 or more wins and three seasons of 60 or more wins. On March 26th of this year when Utah beat the Portland Trailblazers 94-85 (Stockton’s 41st birthday) the Jazz ensured themselves of extending their NBA record of consecutive winning seasons from 17, to 18 with their 42nd win on the year. No other team has ever done that.

All of Stockton and Malone’s future individual and team successes will also result from never quitting. Stockton and Malone can never be stopped because they never quit, and that is why they will win the championship.

Six years later, now 41-year-old Stockton playing in his 19th season and now 39-year-old (40 in July) Malone playing in his 18th season, will again return to this year’s playoffs expecting nothing less than to win the 2003 NBA championship. Of course, eventually the legends themselves will even have to retire from basketball one day (probably when they are 50 years old or so) and when that day does come, they will either have won or not won the championship. Either way, «it’s never over» because nothing can stop John Stockton and Karl Malone from never quitting.

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Proper Glucose Control is Key in Prevention of Vision Problems For Diabetics

Diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. It is estimated that more than 14 million Americans have some form of diabetes. Public health officials expect that by 2050, there will be more than 48 million diagnosed cases in the United States.

Diabetes is caused when the pancreas either does not produce enough insulin or is unable to process insulin correctly. The disease poses numerous complications for the eyes, including fluctuations with eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions; cataracts at a younger age; increased risk of developing glaucoma; and diabetic retinopathy, which is the most serious risk.

The retina is the wall-like structure that lines the back of the eye; it is made up of light-sensitive tissue and a network of blood vessels. In cases of diabetes, the blood vessels of the retina can begin to leak fluid, blood, or cholesterol deposits on the retina. It is also possible that abnormal blood vessels will form and can cause serious bleeding and scarring of the retina.

Diabetic retinopathy frequently has no accompanying symptoms until it is advanced, at which point it is more difficult to treat.

The effects of diabetic retinopathy vary by case, but some common symptoms include blurred vision and a sudden, temporary loss of sight. In late stages of the disease, abnormal vessel growth can lead to retinal detachment and glaucoma.

The longer a person lives with diabetes, the greater their risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. After five years with diabetes, a person’s risk of development is around 20 percent; after 15 years, the risk increases to about 80 percent. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness among people aged 20 to 64 in the U.S.

Studies have shown that those who have good control over their diabetes and carefully monitor their glucose levels have a decreased risk of developing sight-threatening complications. In addition, it is important to treat high blood pressure. Also, those who smoke are more likely to have high blood pressure and higher blood sugar levels, which makes diabetes more difficult to control. Not smoking and maintaining good glucose and blood pressure levels can reduce one’s risk of diabetes-related vision problems.

Diabetic retinopathy is generally treated with laser beams that both seal the leaky blood vessels and prevent more from developing. Laser treatment is often successful at maintaining vision if the retinopathy is found early, but it is not capable of restoring vision that is already lost.

Although diabetic retinopathy is the most serious vision impairment, blurred vision and cataracts can also affect diabetics. Blurred vision can be an early symptom of diabetes and can also occur when the disease is not being well controlled. In the case of cataracts, the lens of the eye becomes cloudy causing vision to be blurred or dimmed. It generally afflicts people as they age, but can affect younger individuals who have diabetes. Treatment involves removal of the clouded lens and replacement with a specialized inert plastic lens called an intraocular lens.

Most sight loss from diabetes is preventable. It is crucial for diabetics to have their eyes checked annually, even if they are not experiencing any vision problems.

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Chelsea Tower Hotel Apartments – Excellent Dubai Accommodation

Our flight landed on Dubai International Airport, and after collecting our luggage we headed straight to get a taxi which is available just as you step out of the airport. Surprisingly, we reached Chelsea Tower Hotel Apartments in just about 15 minutes. Enroute, got out of the taxi to see the majestic Burj Khalifa Tower with all its grandeur; towering above us.

Check- in process was fairly simple and quick. Diana the receptionist was understanding enough to get over with the process as fast as possible seeing how exhausted we were after the long flight. It was quite a busy time, I suppose, because the lobby was filled with people and that made it look so vibrant. There were 5 lifts so one never had to wait longer than a minute.

Fast forward to the room on the 41st floor, gigantic and beautiful with huge windows and a balcony that overlooked the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai skyline on one side and the Arabian Gulf on the other. I think we were already in love with Chelsea Towers apart-hotel by that time. Comfortable beds, spacious rooms, free Wi-fi and a kitchen with all necessary equipment were a few of the other amenities provided by the hotel.

We would go to the gym each morning and sometimes we’d also take a swim in the pool alternating with the Jacuzzi at times. The poolside staff and the spa masseuses were always extremely polite and helpful. Sometimes we took morning breakfast at the Chelsea Garden Restaurant & Café (they served amazing coffee by the way) and sometimes we went outside to the many popular eateries just around the corner such as Tim Hortons and Starbucks. There were other bistros and joints like Nando’s, Chilis, Burger King, KFC and Pizza Hut also very close to the hotel.

Talking about travelling around, we never had to worry because the Financial Centre Metro Station 1 was right across the road and incase of short distances, taxis were a life saver and always readily available. My friends and I were stoked about the fact that the hotel was just 10 minutes from the Dubai Mall and so we visited the mall every other day of our trip.

The Chelsea tower hotel which was in the centre of the city and right on Sheikh Zayed Road made Dubai’s major shopping destinations, tourist destinations, beaches, leisure parks and theme parks easily accessible. This was one of the main advantages for us, being tourists.

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A Few Interesting FC Bayern Munich Facts

German Premier League or Bundesliga has many high-profile football clubs competing in it for the title. There is no doubt that Bayern Munich has been enjoying its monopoly in Bundesliga for quite a few seasons. It is one of the most popular international football clubs. Needless to say, Bayern’s growing popularity has led the fans all over the globe to gather several important pieces of information and facts about the club. Here are a few Bayern Munich facts that the fans are less likely to like giving a miss to.

· The club’s full name is FC Bayern Munchen AG. It was established in 1900. That means the club is a 100-year old entity. It is one of the oldest and most prestigious clubs in Europe.

· Franz Beckenbauer, one of the best footballers in the world, was once the chairman of the club. The football legend later went on to become an advisor to this club. His contribution helped the club a lot to gain an envious position that it is still enjoying.

· FC Bayern Munich is, by far, the most dominating team in Bundesliga and has won the title more than 20 times till date. Not only has the club been most popular in the German League but has also made an impressive name for itself internationally.

· Allianz Arena is the home ground of the club and can host about 70,000 football lovers. Needless to say, the club receives the warmest reception on their home turf and has won a number of memorable matches there.

· The first ever title won by this club was in 1909 in the Bavarian Championship and since then, they have never looked back.

· Bayern Munich was initially started by the Munich Gymnastic club.

· The club lifted their first ever European Championship cup by defeating Atletico Madrid with a 4-0 score and managed to defend their title for three years in a row. The team has similar credits of defending their «Champion» status in other leagues as well.

· The club is run much like a standard company, with 90% of its shares being owned by the club and remaining 10% by Adidas. BM is one of the most profitable international football clubs.

· It is one of the very few clubs to have won the European cup, the UEFA Cup and the Cup Winners Cup.

· Oliver Kahn set a record of keeping clean sheets for maximum number of times in 2001-2002. However, BM goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer has smashed the record by maintaining 20 clean sheets. Players from this club have been nominated for the Ballon D’Or 15 times till date and won it 5 times.

· The 2014-2015 Bundesliga season saw Bayern win the Championship title for the fourth year in a row.

· Seven Bayern players played for Germany in the FIFA World Cup hosted by Brazil. Germany had an impressive run throughout the campaign and won the World Cup for the fifth time.

· FC Bayern Munich has made it to the DFB Cup semifinals for eight times straight.

Golden goals intend to scoop out details about the most celebrity clubs in Europe to keep adding to knowledge of their fans. Keep reading the website and its blog to stay updated on football news.

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Lionel Messi: A Biography – A Genius of Soccer

From Carlos Gardel and Eva Peron to Maradona and Lionel Messi

«He (Lionel Messi) is the best player in the world by some distance», Arsne Wenger, the coach of the F.C. Arsenal, has proclaimed of the five-foot-eight-inch tall, Argentine-born football star, «He’s (like) a PlayStation. He can take advantage of every mistake we make».

As elsewhere in Latin America, much of Argentina’s sporting history has been dominated by football — known simply as soccer in the States– since the 1920s. After Argentina’s military strongman Jorge Rafael Videla Redondo, a hated tyrant, declared top priority to win the FIFA Global Cup in the late 1970s, the nation’s footballers invaded the world with a host of global awards and trophies. On June 25, 1978, Mario Kempes and his fellow players lifted the winner’s Cup on home soil upon scoring an overwhelming win against a Peruvian team led by an Argentine-born goalkeeper (6-0) in the semis. Within a year, in Japan’s capital city of Tokyo, the South American contingent,spearheaded by Diego Armando Maradona, was regarded as the best junior team on the Planet at the expense of the former Soviet Union/USSR. Shortly thereafter, Argentina was one of the «huge favorites» in the men’s football tournament prior to joining the U.S.-led boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games. Three years on, its national side came close to winning the IV Junior Global Championship.

On June 29, 1986, Los Celestes, as the national squad is known around the globe, placed first in the FIFA Cup in the United Mexican States; One of the most memorable matches ever seen in World Cup history was played there as Argentina beat England–Maradona and his team-mates tried to win on the field what their countrymen had lost in the 1982 Anglo-Argentine Falklands War. Already, in 1990, once again Maradona put Argentina in the final of the FIFA Cup on Italian soil. In the space of six years, from 1995 through 2005, the national contingent was four-time winner of the Under-20 World tournament. It was around this time that name Messi appeared on the scene.

Argentine-born Messi,who is dubbed » the Flea», is a strong and powerful forward who plays both in FC Barcelona (since 2003) and Argentina’s national squad (2006).Curiously, he has spent his entire career in Spanish club (nearly 10 years), working in a variety of teams (Under-15, U-17, U-19, as well as other squads). Messi has become almost indispensable to his club (known popularly as «Barca»)-he is the backbone of Barcelona’s 4-3-3 formation. Nevertheless, he loves to play football with the Argentine side, having refused to be a member of the Spanish national team despite his strong links to European nation. As well as being an Argentine-born person, Messi, of Italian background, is a Spaniard citizen since the mid-2000s. From 2005 through 2011, Messi collected over seventy individual awards. Indeed, his success as a sportsman is largely due to his persistence and hard discipline. According to Paris-based magazine France Football, Messi is the world’s top paid footballer. Besides all that, the center forward —a soccer gold medalist in the 2008 Olympics– has gained international stature as a champion for the rights of children.

Although Lionel Andres Messi, known occasionally as «the ghost center forward»,is considered one of the greatest soccer players to have never won a FIFA World Cup (together with Ferenc Puskas from Hungary and Liberia’s George Weah), he is already one of the male athletes most famous on the global sporting map. In the Western Hemisphere, Messi, who is often compared to Maradona, has inspired thousands of young would-be footballers to follow their dreams,especially in poverty-stricken regions. But not only that, because of him more people know about Argentina –which has a long-standing history of man-made disasters— than ever before. On his home soil, his status is only comparable to three national celebrities: Argentina’s postwar First Lady Eva Perón -made famous by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Evita— Maradona, and Carlos Gardel, nicknamed the «songbird of Buenos Aires» and who helped popularize tango around the world.

Lionel Messi: A Rough Diamond

Lionel Messi’s life changed forever when he was plucked out of the Spanish-speaking republic of Argentina by a talent scout to play for Barca, which is often referred to as one of the top clubs around the globe- it holds hundreds of millions of soccer fans outside its own borders, from Bangladesh and Guinea-Bissau to San Marino and the Feroe islands.

You cannot become a top sportsman (woman) if you don’t achieve notable results, if you are not a hard worker, and before all, if you are not able to overcome the obstacles in your life. In fact, Lionel Messi knows firsthand about this. Like his fellow Argentine Maradona, Messi is small who stands 5 feet 8 inches tallfor the position of forward, but he overcame this with a prodigious ability and exceptional intelligence on the filed, earning the nickname «Flea». Over his athletic career, he also has defeated other hurdles: numerous injuries, especially during Rikjaard’s direction. Throughout his years as a boy, his country underwent one of the deepest recessions in the Americas. But this wasn’t all. Because of an illness, he almost gave up the sport. By 2008, there were troubles to send Messi to the Summer Games due to his dual citizenship and status as a professional footballer in Barcelona. Against club wishes, however, Messi,the greatest professional footballer of all time, arrived at Beijing with the Argentine squad (as a defending champion). In the Olympic arena, soon afterwards, he and his colleagues were champions, making history in the People’s Republic of China. Currently, Barcelona won’t sell Messi for anything in the world.

Messi bases his success on being able to offer a play based on passion, determination, hard discipline, and an exceptional ability. No player can ever be categorized as invincible in football world, but Messi is probably the most talented man ever to carry a ball. In all his matches, Messi plays as if were a game for the FIFA World Championship.

Rosario: The Birth Of A Footballer

Born in the Argentinian city of Rosario (Santa Fe Province), on June 24 1987 – a year after his country captured the FIFA World Tournament in the Mexican metropolis— Messi is one of the fourth children born to Jorge Horacio Messi and his wife, the former Celia Mara Cucittini. Curiously, he is one of the four most prominent individuals from Rosario, alongside Libertad Lamarque (performer), Valeria Mazza (supermodel),and César Luis Menotti (football coach).

His father had been a factory steel worker. In fact, Messi inherited his football genes from his father, who was coach during a brief period. Meanwhile, Messi’s mother is an admirer of notable people and wanted his children to have famous names. Celia Mara named his son Lionel after her favorite idol Lionel Richie, a Grammy-winning singer/songwriter whose pop chart-topping hits in the 1980s included «Truly», «You Are», and «All Night Long».

Like most of Argentina’s sportsmen as Octavio Dazzan (cycling), David Nalbandian (tennis), and Manu Ginibili (basketball), Lionel reflects the Italian roots of his motherland. His father’s family is from Italy’s city of Ancona who came to the Latin American place during a large-scale European immigration at the turn of the 19th century. This Spanish-trained professional footballer, the high-scoring forward of Barcelona, has two brothers, Rodrigo and Matas, and a sister, Maria Sol. On the other hand, his cousins Maximiliano and Emmanuel Biancucchi are also soccer players.

His sporting life goes back to times when Messi grew up playing football in Rosario, a land famous for their athletic passion and hosted the World Championships for both professional and amateurs, including the Men’s Football World Cup (1978) and Men’s Volleyball Global Tournament (1982);Messi can take credit for that because he has been named official Ambassador for Rosario’s 2019 Pan American bid. Under this Olympic atmosphere, Jorge Horacio Messi made no secret of his ambitions for his son.

Like several Latino champs –among them Edwin Vásquez Cam (shooting) and Nancy López (golf) — Messi was introduced to sport by his father. Before joining the Newell’s Old Boy’s youth side, Lionel -when he was only 5 years old— played in the local team of Grandioli, where his father was coach. On that occasion, the smaller Lionel was a goalie on the football team. At the time, he had a lot of athletic skills, but not the technical skills. Shortly after, while Lionel demonstrated his talent in the under-10 competitions in his homeland and abroad in the middle of the 1990s, the Argentine boy, at the age of 11, was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. Since then, prior to begin an athletic career as a junior player in the following years, he had to beat back an illness, whose treatment cost $ 900 a month. But in spite of this problem, his enthusiasm for football was unbelievable.

A Golden Opportunity

Recognizing Messi’s precocious talent, Carles Rexach, a sports administrator, promised him that FC Barcelona would pay his treatment if he decideto play for the famous club.The answer was «yes», of course. As a consequence of this, Messi and his parents moved permanently to Barcelonese soil, a football-mad place. On that occasion, the youngster was sad to leave his home city. However, the Spaniard place had a special significance to Messi: There, on May 3, 1980, his fellow Argentine Maradona signed a six-year contract with the traditional side.

The travel proved to be a turning point in his life. In the capital and largest city of Spain’s Catalan region — one of Europe’s first class cities— Messi received a scholarship to play football in Barca’s athletic academy, alongside Xabi Alonso, Gerard Piqu, Andrs Iniesta and other boys. The Club’s Youth Academy (one of Western Europe’s major sports academies), was set up with one primary goal in mind: Scans up to 300 young talents and transform some of them into champions. The youth squads have always preoccupied Barcelona’s sports leaders. In recent decades, the Spaniard club sent scouts to Latin America looking for promising youth athletes.

As well as being the nation’s second largest city behind Madrid, Barcelona is a place that is tied closely to the Olympic Movement, physical activity and all of the values that sport represent in the 21st Century. This corner of the planet, host to the 1992 Summer Olympic Games, is an international grandstand with recreational spaces, sports academies, and state-of-the-art Olympian facilities on a par with other sporting cities such as London (UK), Singapore City, Doha (Qatar), Montreal (Canada), Dubai ( United Arab Emirates), and Los Angeles (CA). Additionally, it was home of Mr. Juan Antonio Samaranch, former Chairman of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and among the world’s most gifted and influential sports administrators.

During a breakout year, after overcoming his illness, Messi, who was about four-foot-seven-inch tall, become one of Barca’s top male players in the Boys’ Division of the Spanish Football Championships. There, he had been outstanding throughout the event, scoring over 35 goals and setting numerous records for his age group. A couple of years later, under the aegis of Spain’s Club, Messi improved rapidly his play and was promoted to the junior team’s starting lineup, competing in the under-19 tournaments.

Encouraged by Frank Rijkaard

As a young teen, he got the first opportunity to used his talent as a member of Barca’s official contingent when he made his first appearance in the friendly against Porto on November 16, 2003. Following his initial impact, scoring 22 goals in the junior competitions, the up-and-coming Messi, by late 2003, was moved up to the reserves of the club: The squad «C», prior to winning the right to play for Barcelona B side, a second division club. Messi, as a young athlete, acquired enough expertise to participate in senior soccer events, face-to-face with finest professional players from Europe and abroad. It was an excellent school for him, of course.

After watching his athletic performance in the traditional junior contests on Spaniard soil, Frank Rijkaard, Barca’s major coach at the time, put his eyes on Messi –perhaps his most famous pupil–and did not doubt that he would be the next greatest footballer on the Planet —Perhaps a Maradona. Nonetheless,the high-flying coach was not the first to be excited by the potential of Messi. On the other hand, Rijkaard backed up a number of young players, including Carles Puyol and Vctor Valds.

At the age of 17, Messi had a chance to show his athletic potential. Fortunately,he did not disappoint to Barca’s sports officials and soccer fans when he entered the highest level in Spanish championship, by passing many senior footballers and becoming the youngest player in the domestic soccer league. It was one of the greatest moments of Messi’s life on the soccer field.

Encouraged by his coach, Frank Rijkaard, Messi, months later, made his mark with the club by scoring his first senior goal against Albacete Balompi, becoming the youngest footballer from Barcelona to ever score in the domestic football league, among the world’s most competitive sports tournaments. By any standards it is a phenomenal achievement. In fact, Rijkaard made him the focus of the team’s new offfensive scheme. Later on, Messi spoke with gratitude about Rijkaard, «I will never forget the fact that he launched my career, that he had confidence in me while I was only sixteen or seventeen». Without a doubt, he was considered one of the great prospects of the world football.

A Champion In the Netherlands

By the mid-2000s,Messi brought home his country’s fifth junior global title, considered a huge success in the South American republic; It was a history-making day for the Argentinean Football Association (AFA). Messi began his work with his homeland when Argentina’s sports officials called on him to join the 2005 junior World Cup team. Always a heavy favorite with the Dutch fans, the national side, sparked by Messi, came first in the global contest in front of the Amsterdam (Netherlands’ capital) crowd, an international sporting platform to numerous unknown footballers. Thereupon, Messi collected two special awards in Holland: The Golden Ball and the Golden Shoe.

Futbol Club Barcelona: 2005- 2006 Season

The breakthrough season for the team and Messi came in 2005-06. Three of Barcelona’s Spanish titles can be attributed to Messi: Domestic League, Cataluña Cup, and Spanish Supercup— beginning a new period of success for Spain’s most popular club and topping the TV sports rankings in the European nation. On that occasion, Messi also amassed three individual trophies.

On September 27, 2005,before a crowd of several fans and spectators at Barcelona’s Nou Camp Stadium (among the world’s major football stadia), star youngster Messi made his debut as a local player in the European League Championship (against Italy’s Udinese). He competed with Barca until his injury, six months later. In spite of playing without Messi, however, the club earned the famous Champions League, one of the four big international events on Earth, along with the Olympic Games (Winter and Summer), and the FIFA World Cup.

In the same year, the prolific scorer Messi was named as Europe’s best young player by Tuttosport (a magazine from Italy), gaining the Golden Boy Trophy, by passing several sportsmen such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney.

Curiously, Spain is home of one of the world’s largest populations of foreign-born athletes(along with France, Canada and the oil-rich Kingdom of Qatar) such as Eulogio Martínez (Paraguay, football), Nina Zhivanevskaya (Russia, swimming), Juan Domingo de la Cruz (Argentina, basketball), Glory Alozie (athletics, Nigeria), and Juan Pérez (Cuba, waterpolo). By the end of 2005, Messi was one of the last athletes to become a Spanish citizen (dual citizenship), making him eligible to play as a Spanish player in the National League.

FIFA 2006 World Cup

Historically, Argentina has the honor of being the third Third World country to capture the global contest after Uruguay (1930 & 1950) and Brazil (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002). Due to this tradition and thanks to its world-beating players on European soil, the Argentine football squad had become one of the top favorites to gain the 2006 FIFA Cup, but they finished sixth overall (ahead of three Europeans squads: England, Ukraine and Spain), after losing to host Germany in the quarterfinals. Immediately, Argentina’s soccer fans blamed José Pekerman, national coach, for the defeat against Germany. Why? Incredibly, Messi was excluded to play that game.

Certainly, Messi had dissapointed 2006. Although, he made his long-awaited debut in the World Cup as he led Argentina -two-time winner of the men’s football World Cup (1978 & 1986)– to win its first points following a triumph over Serbia-Montenegro (former Yugoslavia). In Germany, he played three of Argentina’s five football matches.

During the 2006 World Cup, Messi became Argentina’s most youngest footballer to attend the FIFA Cup. The following year,Messi and his fellow Argentine players finished as runner-ups to Brazil in the 2007 America’s Cup on Venezuelan soil.

Spain’s ‘Football War’

Throghout his 2006-07 season, Messi had become a regular player in his European squad, competing on equal terms with senior players and attracting huge numbers of interested fans. It was truly an inspiring moment. However, he withdrew from the Spaniard Football League due to an injury (a game against Real Zaragosa).

With better health and upon spending three months on South American soil, Messi went back to Spain, playing in the match between Barcelona and Racing de Santander. Soon after, he made a hat-trick when his club drawn 3-3 with Real Madrid, a match between the two most popular teams in Spain (better known as «The Clasico»). Since decades ago, these matches have been labelled the «Spain’s Football War», attracting the largest average audience in the European country and numerous regions around the world, especially in soccer nations. In fact, it is a battle which is being won by Barca’s team in recent years.

Messi’s Hand of God Goal

As he entered his 20s, by 2007, he picked up a total of 14 individual trophies inside and outside Spain, a new personal record over his professional career. But this wasn’t all. Evoking the style of Argentina’s former star Maradona, Messi, was dubbed «Messidona» in the course of an impressive career as a sportsman.

During a never-to-be-forgotten game, on April 18, 2007, the Barcelonese club got two goals from Messi to defeat Getafe CF in the semis of the Copa del Rey; one goal inspired comparisons to Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God ‘goal against England’s squad at the 1986 Mexico City World Tournament — it appeared that Messi may have knocked the ball into the net with his fist. In fact, this was great news both for Barcelona and the whole country. Nobody could imagine this feat. His fellow player Deco said, «It was the best goal I have ever seen in my life».

2007-2008 Campaign

Over the course of the season,Messi was in the spotlight as he was regarded as the world’s top footballer by experts, sportswriters, coaches, players, and sports administrators. Meanwhile, Messi was elected as one of the 14th Best Male Athletes in 2007 by a total of 422 AIPS (International Sports Press Association) members from 94 countries–ahead of South Africa’s rugby star Bryan Habana and Rafael Nadal, a tennis player from Spain.

After making a record in soccer world —scored five goals over a span of seven days– Messi helped Barcelona to become one of the four leaders in the first class Spaniard championship. He was the answer to their lack of versatility in attacking positions. In fact, he sees Barcelona through the eyes of a lover. Additionally, he scored also two goals in the UEFA Champions League. In beginning 2008, Messi celebrated his 100th match.

In March, the star athlete was forced to drop out of the Champions League because of an injury. Following over a month, he returned to the line-up, competing with Cristiano Ronaldo, considered among the globe’s finest footballers. Under Messi’s guidance, however, the Barcelonese club was eliminated from the European championship, showing the effects of his injury. Certainly, Messi had not a strong performance in this season, winning only two unofficial events (Beckenbauer Cup in Germany and Joan Gamper Trophy). In July of that year, on the other hand, Messi was appointed as the captain for the first time in a friendly match against Scotland’s Dundee United.

Subsequently, the Barcelonese soccer club paid tribute to Messi’s perseverance: Wearing the shirt number ten for the first time (historically given to the leading scorer), the number worn by former stars such as Romario Souza of Brazil, Hugo Sotil of Peru and Maradona, Messi began a new period in Barca, few weeks prior to 2008 the Summer Games.

Messi At the 2008 Beijing Olympics

Argentina earned its first soccer medal in the 1928 Amsterdam Games, after falling to Uruguay’s side in the gold-medal match. Then, the national contingent was asked to replace Uruguay in the 1976 Montreal Games, but it did not accept.

During the Centennial Games in the States, on August 3, 1996, the Argentine team was runner-up to Nigeria (sub-Saharan Africa)-matched its performance in the 1920s. In the 26th Olympiad, the silver medalists were Roberto Ayala, José Chamot, Javier Zanetti, Roberto Sensini and Diego Pablo Simeone, Ariel Ortega, Hernan Crespo, and Claudio López, among others footballers. Over the next years, by 2004, the Spanish-speaking republic placed first in the Athens XXVIII Summer Games upon their victory over Paraguay, a feat never before accomplished by a male squad from Argentina in the men’s soccer Olympic Cup.

Messi was Latin America’s top hope for a medal in the 2008 Olympiad. Nonetheless, there were troubles to send Messi to Beijing: his club did not approve his Olympic participation. After a long-running conflict between the Spaniard club and AFA (Argentinean Football Association), Messi was eligible to represent his nation in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where he won his second major global event following a convincing triumph over Nigeria, one of the most extraordinary results in the history of the Olympic Championship. It was interesting to note that Messi was a great Olympian champ in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Unlike Pele (Edson Arantes do Nascimento) -a long-standing senior player from Brazil– and Maradona, Messi has won an Olympic gold medal after Argentina defeated six countries in the men’s Olympian football championship in the Games of 29th Olympiad in mainland China, becoming the first world-class soccer player to win a trophy in the Modern Olympics since the early 1950s when Ferenc Puskas took the Hungarian team to its first Olympian title in the Finland Summer Games.

The Soccer Tournment included some strong names such as Brazil, Belgium, Holland,and Cote d’Ivoire.There, this Spanish-trained professional player also helped Argentina to win their second straight Olympic title; the nation’s fourth Olympian medal in men’s football. As well as earning the gold in the People’s Republic, Messi was regarded as one of Latin America’s foremost Olympic athletes. Nonetheless, his trophy was overshadowed by the wins of Michael Phelps, Usain Powell of Jamaica ( 3-time Olympic gold medalist ) and other champions.

2008-2009 Season

After being part of the Olympic gold-winning squad in 2008, Messi won the world’s best footballer by FIFA ( the world’s governing body of soccer ).

In beginning 2009, Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Racing de Santander was one of Messi’s most notable matches, scoring both goals in the last 45 minutes. Messi entered the match when its club was defeated (0-1), but he confirmed his international status when he was able to break down a Santander defense. During the game, Spain’s team made its 5,000 goal with Messi.

After making worldwide headlines on Spaniard soil, he was a key player when his club had a convincing 6-2 win over Real Madrid at Santiago de Bernabu Stadium in Spain’s capital city— Without a doubt, one of the greatest games of Messi’s athletic career. As has traditionally been the case, this a match attracted several neutral fans across the globe. Messi’s other important achievement was when Barcelona’s side finished first in the unofficial event Joan Gamper Trophy for the third time in a row. In 2008, he came away with 10 individual awards.

His Play Speaks For Itself

By the time the 2009-10 season, Messi brought about a sporting revolution at Barcelona. Astonishingly, his side won all the championships. For these wins, some experts and sportswriters believe he is better than Maradona and Pele.

Upon claiming five prestigious competitions —the Champions League, the UEFA Supercup, the Spanish Cup (Copa del Rey), the National League, and the Spanish Supercup— Messi was able to lead Barcelona side to victory in the FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the turn of the 2009, becoming Spain’s most popular person and making Barcelona one of the world’s most successful clubs in football history. Apart from winning these events, he collected over 15 individual awards in the Americas, Persian Gulf, and Western Europe: World Football of the Year, Alfredo Di Stefano Trophy, World Selection, Best Player in the Club World Cup, and Champions Trophy, among other trophies.

In April 2010, one of the most interesting statistics came from Messi when he became Barcelona’s first footballer to score four goals in the Champions League-all against Arsenal F.C. Likewise, he made a name for himself in soccer world as he was Barcelona’s top scorer in the Champions League ( twenty-five goals). Later on, Messi helped the club to capture the Spanish league, as well as winning two special trophies as the Best Player.

Spain: The Best Domestic Football

Not all of Messi’s play was acclaimed in 2010. Despite the optimism following Messi’s strong performance in Western Europe, Argentine side was eliminated by Germany (0-4), allowing it to secure a top five position in the FIFA Global Tournament;one of Messi’s most disapponting results in this period.

The men’s football team of Argentina departed for Africa in the quest of their third Global Cup. From the beginning, Los Celestes entered the 2010 South Africa World Cup as a front-runner to win the title. Prior to being eliminated in the quaterfinals, the South American nation had four wins: Nigeria (1-0), South Korea (4-1), Greece (2-0), and Mexico (3-1). Ironically, the Spanish national team won the Global Cup for the first time.

Although one of the most prominent sportsmen in this Century, Messi has not won a World Cup (2006 & 2010). In sub-Saharan Africa, his production was poor: He did not score a single goal. Up to now, his results pale in comparison with Maradona and Pele.

2010-2011 Season

In September 2010, Messi’s play captivated the audience, from experts and sportswriters to fans, setting new Spanish and European records. For the third consecutive time,the star player became top scorer in the Champions League. It was unbelievable. In the whole event, the sport’s greatest footballer was a «perfect machinery». Spearheaded by its idol Messi, the Barcelonese club amassed two tournaments – The national tournament and then Champions League for the second successive year, sparking off celebrations in the Spaniard city of Barcelona. In the meantime, he gained the FIFA Ballon d’ Or. These wins have helped construct an excellent relationship between Messi and his fans inside and outside Spain. In his native country, however, there is another atmosphere.

America’s Cup

Argentina’s side was upset by Brazil in the finals of the 2007 South American Cup (there Messi appeared in all six of his nation’s games). Four years later, the traditional event was held in Argentina. There, the host nation entered the regional contest, but it did not even make the semis. On the eve of that event, Argentina was a gold-medal contender well ahead of Brazil and Uruguay.

Unfortunately, Messi could not do anything. In spite of his extraordinary achievements in Western Europe, the amazing Latino player was unable to lead the Argentine side to win the Copa America for the second time, being strongly criticized by Argentina’s football fans.

The local squad had two draws with Bolivia (1-1) and Colombia (0-0) before defeating Costa Rica (3-0) and falling to eventual champion Uruguay (4-5) in the quarter-finals. In his own land,Messi did not score a single goal (except on a penalty) over the course of the Latin American championship. Undeterred, he departed for Spain.

Undoubtedly, some soccer fans don’t understand why Argentina’s national team can not win international tournaments with the world’s most prominent soccer player.

2011-2012 Season

Spearheaded by Messi, the Barcelonese club captured the Spanish Supercup on in August 2011. With 8 goals, Messi was the top scorer in the national contest, ahead of Raúl González Blanco. Within a few weeks, they also won the European Supercup. On December 18, 2011, Barcelona won the Club World Cup by beating Brazil’s Santos (4-0). There, Messi was the tournament’s most valuable athlete. Astonishingly, Messi became the top scorer (236 goals) in Barca’s history on March 31, 2012.

An Advocate for the Rights of Children

Latin America’s remarkable football player Messi is regarded as Argentina’s long-standing advocate for the rights of poor children. By 2007, he created a self-named foundation,whose principal aim is to improve education and health care of the future generation of Argentina’s boys and girls. Recently named UN Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Messi works closely with the international organization, increasing global awareness and providing financial aid to programs for children and mothers on Earth.

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