Messi might be injured for six or seven weeks now but it doesn’t change the fact that he is a hero to thousands (perhaps millions?) around the world. The wikipedia article even shows a bus in the hills of India with a Messi tag on its rear windows.
Lionel Messi is paid a lot of money for his services and he is one of the greatest (if not the greatest) of his generation alongside C.Ronaldo (maybe count Ibrahimovic as well).
But that doesn’t mean Lionel Messi is a good role model to follow or emulate. And through no fault of his own.
It doesn’t mean that Messi is an awful person or something. It’s just that not many people would have the circumstances Messi had when he was growing up, had his club debut or even till now.
Young children who are just starting to get into football or even amateur players would be better off trying to copy other players like C.Ronaldo or Rooney (for some, may be).
There are many reasons for it, here are the top five:
- It is pretty obvious to most people now that Messi is way more natural at the things he does on the field than Ronaldo. Ronaldo is sort of a product of hard work and determination rather than a nature’s phenomenon.
What does that have to do with him not being a good role model? Well, because Lionel Messi’s talents are mostly gifted or what some might say “Messi was born with it” and that means that they are inimitable.
They cannot be copied unless your name is Lionel Messi or by a miracle chance you end up having 99 percent of the same traits through your genetics as Lionel Messi’s.
Ronaldo on the other hand was born with nothing on the pitch when he was a kid. He used ankle weights when he was a kid (even in his early Manchester United days ) to get his above average quick feet and worked like a madmen on his fitness with Manchester United staff after he had come for Sporting CP as a scrawny winger.
Both of the things Ronaldo did to make himself better from an early age are repeatable by average joes who want to play and enjoy football.
- 99.5 percent of the people have got no chance to play like Messi on any level of football because Messi’s technique on the ball and on the pitch is unorthodox. He does things naturally on the pitch. You would never hear Ronaldo saying the things Messi does when he plays on the pitch like “I try to have fun” or “football gives me happiness and joy”.
Ronaldo is all business when it comes to football. He takes it like a profession. He works hard and improves which is something a lot of people can relate to from the things they have done in their lives in other areas.
Have you ever pondered over the fact why Messi has been playing the same way he has been since eleven years old?. To paraphrase what Gerard Pique said about him, he said that nobody was surprised when Messi became the best player in the world.
Pique also said that Messi was playing the same way he does now, when he played for the youth squad at Barcelona and it was just a question of whether he would be able to maintain his level as opposed to actually getting better at his game.
Messi did maintain his level and has been dominating the attacking world of football ever since.
Contrast that with Ronaldo and you can clearly see that Ronaldo’s achievements are considerably more replicable by other people.
No one expected Ronaldo to be the best player in the world alongside Messi (except for his toady friends and perhaps his mother. And the scout who brought him to Sporting, but that’s understandable that he wants to take credit for introducing Ronaldo to the world earlier than everyone else).
At sporting and even at Manchester United, Ronaldo was an imperfect winger. He could dribble and could run fast but his shooting technique and positional sense was very average. That sounds a lot like us common folk who are good at some things and bad at others.
What did Ronaldo do? He did what most of us would do (can do maybe). He worked and worked some more. His work ethic and his ambition paved the way for him to transform himself from a skinny little teenage winger into one of the most complete players in the history of the game.
Therefore, Ronaldo’s rise to the pinnacle of footballing achievement is more relatable to the average folk than Messi’s who had been gifted with an ability on the ball that is still unmatched.
That is also the reason why Ronaldo has never been reported to miss training or hang out at parties late night that could hamper his performance on the field.
Messi, though not like Robinho or Ronaldinho of Brazil, has seen seasons where he had gained weight and missed training sessions. But that didn’t affect his performance he is a very gifted individual.
No such luck for average joes like us, who don’t have such colossal amount of natural talent. Ronaldo’s the way if you want to have role model that can actually help you teach important lessons in life to be successful.
- To play like Lionel Messi, you need to be of short height, low center of gravity and have a small frame. Which roughly translates to: You need to be born with a certain physique to be like Messi.
No such restrictions with Ronaldo. Ronaldo’s physique is (or was depending on how you look at it) normal or one might say just above normal. Definitely more normal than Messi’s physique.
We can all work hard, improve our muscle mass and get strong just like Ronaldo has done since his move to Manchester United from Sporting CP.
To play like Ronaldo, you need discipline, astronomical amounts of hard work and dedication. Though not easy by any stretch of imagination, all these traits are learnable. None require natural born abilities like that of Messi. Because you can bet that had Messi not had the advantage of having a low center of gravity than the rest, he wouldn’t have been the same player.
Regardless of that fact that Messi was able to keep his level of excellence from youth academy to his world beating performances for Barcelona FC, he was sort of made for it. How many people are tailor made for something to such an extent that they never have to improve themselves? Yep. Not many.
But how many people aren’t natural at something but get good at something by continuously working hard and improving? A lot I would like to presume.
- The fourth reason is a simple on of circumstances. As Alex Ferguson once said that Messi would not be able to play like he does for Barcelona in EPL. What Ferguson was implying that, it is all good when you have ten best players of the world playing beside you, it is quite another when you play for Norwich City or Cardiff.
He also said that Ronaldo would score goals no matter where or for whom he played.
Messi was lucky enough to be spotted by a Barcelona scout at just the right moment (he need some growth related medical treatment for which Messi’s family had little money and Barcelona agreed to pay for his bills if he moved to Spain to play for them) when he was just a kid.
He has been at Barcelona all his life and has been playing with the same people on the pitch he has been playing since his brain started to form memories. Barcelona changed the way the club played football to accommodate Messi.
Barcelona’s playing style is now perfectly suited to Lionel Messi’s (infact that has been the case since the departure of Ronaldinho some eight years ago) which doesn’t hurt either when you are trying to outperform others in your field.
But how many people would ever get this lucky? Perfect club, perfect teammates and that too at perfect time period in your life. Having Messi as a role model is simply impractical as his circumstances were extraordinary.
He didn’t have to go through the drudgery most people go through to get what they want.
Contrast that with Ronaldo and you would see a man who rose through the ranks through his skill and hard work.
Sporting CP didn’t change their philosophy for Ronaldo. It was Ronaldo who had to adjust to them rather than the other way around (exact opposite to Messi, who playing style, first through shear fate, matched to that of Barcelona youth team and then the management of Barcelona, seeing his rare talent, changed the philosophy of the first team in order to get the best of Lionel MEssi).
C.Ronaldo came to Manchester United and found out that his strength points had little value in a tough league like EPL (and he did try to leave Manchester United for Valencia when he had a bust up with Ferguson, before his golden years at Manchester United) so what did he do?
Well, what Ronaldo eventually did was to change his style of play. To improve in areas where he was weak. He went from being a pure winger to a winger who scored goals at will.
And then at Real Madrid, he transformed himself into a striker who would drift in from the wings to score heavenly amount of goals.
In short, he was good but not great and then improved to becoming something more than great. Messi? He was great from the moment he touched a ball.
Which story resonates more with us lot? Which story is more likely to become our story if we work hard and apply ourselves?
No prizes for guessing that it’s Ronaldo’s.
- Ronaldo is amongst the self made men. So what? Plenty of men are self made. But that is the actual point. Ronaldo is more human than Messi. Ronaldo is more of a role model than Messi.
Ponder on the possibility if Messi hadn’t been picked up by Barcelona for his treatment (what they gave him there is anyone’s guess) and that Barcelona hadn’t changed their style of playing football to comfort Lionel Messi?
They did so because Messi had uncanny ability on the ball and no one should criticize Barcelona for that (in this case only) because that was the most logical step to take.
Compare that to Ronaldo who had lost his father at an early age and had to grow up all by himself with the help of some good samaritans of course.
And most people don’t know this by Barcelona and Real Madrid didn’t even consider to sign Ronaldo when he had a bust up with Ferguson and his teammates at Manchester (for the Rooney wink at World Cup 2006).
He almost ended up at Valencia. How demoralized (much like the rest of us) would Ronaldo have been when he saw that no top club wanted to sign him at that moment? Why? Because he simply wasn’t good enough (unlike Messi who had always been great).
What did he do? He worked hard with people who distrusted him (Manchester United teammates who objected to his role in getting Rooney sent off for England), fans who wanted him out of the club and a manager who had this knack of bust ups with top players.
Ronaldo did all that and more till Real Madrid came knocking on the door. Conversely, Messi has always been comfortable at Barcelona. The people their worship him. Fans love him, the management adore him (in many ways like favorable contracts) and his teammates (the core of the team) are his childhood friends.
He always has had people there to encourage him. From coaches to former legends (like Maradona) all have been in awe of his ability on the ball since the beginning. No one was rooting for Ronaldo till he demonstrated to everyone that he deserved respect.
Messi literally grew up at Barcelona. No such luck for Ronaldo though.
It should be pretty easy to understand, by now, that Messi is simply not a practical (ignoring one’s own preferences) role model to have.
His story is too perfect to be relatable and in a sense replicable. A scientist might say that Messi’s achievements are not reproducible simply because of the fact that Messi is just not normal even amongst elite professionals in his field.
It’s almost like Messi had no other choice but to be great, at Barcelona.
Ronaldo, on the other hand, is a story of a boy who had a dream.
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