Well, Argentina’s World Cup aspirations didn’t turn out exactly as they hoped thanks to the Sip Advisor’s German squad, but the country can still lay claim to the top footballer in the world today: Lionel Messi. Let’s learn a little more about the man affectionately known as La Pulga (The Flea):
Born on June 24, 1987 in Roasario, Argentina (same hometown as communist revolutionary Che Guevara), Lionel Messi has come a long way to being the wealthiest football player in the world. As a young boy, he suffered from a growth hormone deficiency and today he stands at only 5’7”. Good things come in small packages, though, as Messi has benefited from his speed and skill.
The future superstar’s first contract came at 13 years old and was written out on a napkin after Barcelona sporting director Carles Rexach became enamored with Messi’s play and wanted to sign him immediately. With the contract, Messi and his family were moved to Spain with the youngster’s medical bills being covered. Messi made his debut for Barcelona at the fresh age of 17 and became the youngest person to ever score for the team, at the time.
Messi became a citizen of Spain in 2005 and now holds two passports (including his Argentinian documents). La Pulga turned down a spot with the Spanish national team and made his international debut with Argentina in 2005, although it lasted all of 47 seconds when Messi came on as a substitute and was promptly given a red card for an alleged elbow.
Wearing #10 with Barcelona, Messi was given the jersey number by fellow football great Ronaldinho in 2008. The following year, Messi picked up his first Ballon d’Or (Golden Ball) and FIFA World Player of the Year awards. Those two awards were merged in 2010, with Messi winning what is now known as the FIFA Ballon d’Or a total of four consecutive times.
Messi is a scoring machine, racking up a world record 91 goals in a single year. He has recorded a staggering 365 goals, including numerous hat tricks, over his career and is still in his prime years. Messi has received praise from some of football’s greatest players ever, including fellow Argentinian Diego Maradona, who thinks of Messi as his “successor.”
Team accomplishments for Messi include: Three UEFA Champions League wins, Six La Liga championships, two Copas del Rey titles, five Supercopas de España victories, two Club World Cups, and a gold medal with Argentina at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
You ready to be really jealous of Messi? Thanks to his contract and endorsement deals, it’s estimated that the soccer star earns $128,000 each day. Even better, as part of his pact with Barcelona, the club covers his income tax payments. How can the Sip Advisor get that kind of agreement!
With his substantial wealth, Messi launched the Leo Messi Foundation, which helps provide kids with education and health care. He is also a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF and is involved with helping people suffering from Fragile X Syndrome. Some of Messi’s charitable attention has been directed towards his hometown, where in 2013, he donated 600,000 pounds to the Victor J Vilela Children’s Hospital. The money was used to renovate the building’s oncology unit and fund training trips in Spain, for doctors.
In his personal life, Messi has been dating Antonella Roccuzzo since 2009. The two have a child together, named Thiago, who was born on November 2, 2012. This prompted Messi to write on his Facebook page: “Today I am the happiest man in the world, my son was born and thanks to God for this gift!” At just 72 hours old, young Thiago was signed to a supporters club contract with Messi’s original club, the Newell Old Boys. For lovers of ink (and supportive, loving fathers), Messi had Thiago’s name and handprints tattooed on his left calf.
A devout Roman Catholic, Messi met Pope Francis (also from Argentina) at the Vatican in 2013. He said of the experience: “Without a doubt, today was one of the most special days of my life. We have to excel on and off the field.”
Despite the international fame and success, Messi is very shy and has been since his childhood. He does most of his communication through text messages, as he avoids talking on the phone as much as possible. Similarly, while most strikers go into epileptic fits when celebrating a goal, Messi is more likely to simply raise both arms in the air, a salute to his late grandma, who he believes is watching over him. Messi does not like to watch highlights of himself, but is a video game enthusiast, so perhaps that’s how he gets to view and appreciate his own virtual achievements. Not surprisingly, Messi has been featured on numerous video game covers.
Argentina: Vampire Voodoo
- 1 oz Malbec Wine
- 1 oz Gin
- Splash of Lemon Juice
- Splash of Lime Juice
- Garnish with Raspberries
One last tidbit: Ginza Takana, a jeweler in Japan has created a solid gold replica of Messi’s left foot. The piece weighed in at 55 lbs. and was valued at $5.25 million. The proceeds of its sale are meant to help victims of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. That’s an artifact every Argentinian football nut would surely covet!
Sip Advisor Bar Notes (1.5 Sips out of 5):
As I wrote before, Malbec cocktail recipes aren’t easy to come by. Therefore, I adapted this generic Red Wine cocktail to use that beautiful 1884 Malbec. Sadly, this drink was a complete miss. One or more ingredients just wasn’t right. I still can’t figure out if the Lemon or Lime Juice was to blame or if the Gin just wasn’t hitting the right chord. Either way, I have to say that I didn’t fall under the power of Vampire Voodoo.