If CR7 had an airport named after him in his hometown, Messi family bar only had a few pictures of him on the wall.
In the secluded bar in Rosario, Argentina, it was almost time to roll a Barcelona game, but the television screen was still playing a tennis match. This is nothing special if this is not a bar owned by the Lionel Messi family in his homeland.
Nobody showed any interest in the ball game in the presence of Messi until Oshin Gharibi and Lena Wagner stepped in, asking the waiter to change channels. These young German tourists have been saving money for months so they can make a trip to the idol’s place where vegetables are buried. But they were soon disappointed: There were no wax statues, no museums or walls full of titles.
Oshin Gharibi, 32, said he seems to love Messi more than the people of Rosario. He watched the match next to his girlfriend Lena Wagner, 23, who was wearing a Barcelona shirt with Messi’s number 10 on the back. They wonder if Messi has become a star from such a small place. Why can’t they give him the recognition they deserve?
This is probably also the question of many people. Cristiano Ronaldo has an airport named after him on his home island of Madeira in Portugal; Pele has its own museum in the home city of Santos, Brazil; even Rocky Balboa – a fictional boxer – is revered with a statue in Philadelphia. So why does Rosario seem to have such a grudge against the world-famous soccer player?
The answer can be found in a number of theories: First, it is the comparison of Lionel Messi with the monument Diego Maradona: Good rock without winning is meaningless. Messi has won every trophy, except for the Wolrd Cup. The upcoming tournament in Russia is probably the last chance for Messi, who turns 31, to lead the Argentine team to the gold cup.
In addition, in Argentina’s third-largest city, when it comes to football, people will only care about two clubs: Rosario Central and rival Newell’s Old Boys, Messi’s childhood club. You will see the breath of football everywhere in Rosario, but that atmosphere does not smell of Messi.
Everyone seems to know Messi, but it is almost rude to leave his image everywhere, but that cannot change Messi’s love for his homeland. When you ask what Messi’s favorite memories are, he won’t hesitate to answer: my house, my neighborhood, and where I was born.
As German tourists walk to the rusted gate in front of Messi’s childhood home, they cannot hide their joy. They could have gone to a beach in Barcelona, Thailand or Australia, but they chose to come there.