I’ve been a football (soccer) fan since before I was born. As I got older, I adopted FC Barcelona as my favorite team—right around the time the legend of Lionel Messi began to manifest.
Messi is the greatest player of his generation and good arguments are being made for him as the greatest player to ever live; his stats do more than justify these claims. Since making his debut at 16 over a decade ago, he has won virtually every trophy and accolade available to a footballer, including winning FIFA’s world’s best player four times in four years, seemingly in a fight with himself to surpass each yearly stat line. At the age of 24 he became Barcelona’s all-time leading scorer, and a few years later became the Spanish Premier League’s all-time scorer. What he has accomplished individually pales in comparison to what he has done for the sport, particularly in America where the NFL and MLB are religion.
Though the coveted World Cup trophy remains elusive, Messi is widely considered one of the greatest athletes on the planet, and at 29, he still has a good four years to create more records to break. However, his most compelling statistic has nothing to do with the sport. At a young age, he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency that rendered him dangerously undersized. At almost 30, this larger than life man of fiction stands at only 5’6” on a good day and less than 150 lbs. There is a lesson hiding in plain sight within these numbers that needn’t even be said.