In the neighbourhood of Argentina football star Lionel Messi
Seventy-year-old Susana Araus can remember what her neighbourhood looked like in simpler times: Card games with friends, a cloud of squealing children running through the streets, heading to the pool, or battling for a football, Qazet.az presents.
In the thick of it all, finding the gaps that mattered, was a diminutive boy who placed this tiny pocket of Argentina on the global map.
“He was like any other child,” said Araus of Lionel Messi, among the world’s greatest players.
This was Messi’s childhood haunt, a neighbourhood known as La Bajada (“the slope down”), in the mid-sized city of Rosario.
“He was always very humble,” said Barbara Sossi, 33, who was among the youngsters that played football with Messi. “Just like now. The way you see him, he’s been like that his whole life.”
Messi played for six years for the youth side of Newell’s Old Boys, one of Rosario’s main local clubs, scoring nearly 500 goals. His talent took his family from Argentina to Spain, where he received treatment for a growth hormone deficiency and launched a 21-year-long career with Barcelona.
The Catalan club is where Messi became a global superstar. Barcelona won a record 35 trophies, including 10 La Liga, seven Copa del Rey and four UEFA Champions League with the Argentine in the side.
He is the most decorated Ballon d’Or winner, having been awarded football’s top prize seven times. Last year, he brought home the Copa America title as captain of Argentina. He’s now lacing up for his fifth and likely final World Cup – the coveted prize that has so far eluded him.