"He didn’t come from the slums. But to say that he hasn’t suffered isn’t true."
The New York Times Magazine summarizes the sad situation of Leo Messi and his native land: "The Burden of Being Messi".
But there is also a lovely anecdote:
One of his early youth coaches in Rosario, a man named Carlos Marconi, discovered that Messi also enjoyed alfajores, a kind of chocolate cookie. According to an old TV interview with Marconi, they struck a deal: a cookie for each goal. The trouble was that Messi routinely scored four or five goals a game for his club, Newell’s Old Boys, and so, to motivate him, Marconi had to make it harder. Messi was tiny at the time, the best player on the field with the ball at his feet but shorter than everybody else by a long shot. To push him, Marconi announced a new regime: two alfajores for every goal Messi scored with his head. The next game, Messi dribbled through the entire opposing team, including the goalkeeper, then stopped at the goal line to flick the ball up into the air with his foot so that he could head it into the empty net. When he found Marconi’s eye in the stands, Messi smiled and held up two fingers.