Who is Lionel Messi? Not anyone too impressive; he’s only an Argentine footballing prodigy that had multiple world-class clubs at his feet at the tender age of 11, shortly after a daunting diagnosis of growth hormone deficiency. The diminutive twinkle-toed forward caught the eyes of the world while playing in the Argentine youth divisions with famed Newell’s Old Boys. Sporting a significantly smaller stature than other boys his age, Messi startled with his close control and commanding balance, weaving through defenders and excelling when odds seemed to be stacked against him.

Seemingly destined for fame, it was only a matter of time before the big boys came knocking. Lionel couldn’t escape the attentions of talent scouts in his time in Argentine football. On a day that shaped his destiny, a representative of Catalan giants FC Barcelona expressed his desire to bring Messi to Spain in order to continue his development and eventually transform him into a first-team competitor. In a strange turn of events, many clubs were turned off by the enormity of Messi’s medical expenses, which all went toward the consistent treatment of his growth hormone condition. Barcelona’s board of executives likely looks to the sky and gratefully embraces the clairvoyant whose astonishing foresight prompted the signing of a legend, despite a hefty cost. The world wasn’t quite prepared to witness Messi’s astronomical rise and still stands in awe as the Argentina captain commandingly embodies the essence of Barcelona football club and the beautiful game upon every single match day.

Despite the generous sprinkling of talent throughout the world of football, Messi’s shadow is seemingly all encompassing. Witnessing the brilliance of the little genius on a football field is virtually equivalent to being in the presence of Da Vinci as his hand calculatedly traces the outline of Mona Lisa’s infamous visage. The ball is magnetized by his feet, which scuttle around defenders, often leaving them dumbfounded. Concrete examples of Messi’s magic are innumerable. Consider his performances in La Liga – the goal against Getafe a few seasons back, when he picked up the ball right by the midfield line to go on a mazy streak past all opposing defenders and finish in an effort that immediately drew comparisons to Diego Maradona. How about his Champions League career and his single-handed dismantling of Arsenal?

In an era of footballers such as Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Xavi Hernandez, and Andres Iniesta, Messi’s mercurial talent has indubitably distinguished him as a legend. His imprint in football culture renders him immortal in my own head, as well as in the hearts of fans all across the world.