Fandom Week: The One that got away

When I was nine years old I watched a 17-year old Messi play against Colombia and I was not the same. I was enchanted, I never thought about that moment as a life-changing moment in my life. (Courtesy/Daniela Marulanda)

This week, Daily Campus Sports is celebrating both the highs and the lows of invested fandom with a series of personal articles telling the stories of our sports memories. This is Fandom Week.

Seeing Lionel Messi play is like seeing an orchestra play harmoniously. When he gets the ball, everything slows down and everything is a different rhythm. He’s an old school player.

He dribbles and dances with the ball. He’s so extraordinary that even if he has done the same move countless times, people still look in awe. Everytime I watch Messi play, I’m reminded of how lucky I am to be witnessing the best player to ever play the game.

Soccer is a team sport but individual brilliance shines and no one shines as brightly as Messi does. Not only because he was born with talent, combined with hard work ethic and more importantly a joy to play. Messi is never happier than with a ball in his feet. He never lost the joy of playing soccer. Yes, this is his job and he plays it every three days competitively.

When Messi was a young kid, he had a tournament game where the prize was a bicycle for every kid in the team. Messi got trapped in the bathroom and missed the first half. He then broke the window, set himself free and ran to the game. He scored the goals to win the game and win the bicycle for himself and his teammates. That’s how he plays every time, for that bicycle.

Messi lives two lives. One where he breaks records every game, has won everything with Barcelona and is seen as a God in Barcelona. While in Argentina he’s never been able to recreate what Diego Maradona did. His country resents him because he left so early and they never got to know him.

It has been said Messi is unable to play with good players around him. But who can win a game with no one else? Messi has had cried tears of frustration with Argentina and his own people don’t like him.

While he’s in Barcelona, not only is he a better teammate but has consistency and a way of playing that has been with Barcelona since the 70s. And even when he’s not playing his best, he has a spark that allows him to do something from another game with Barcelona. Often he doesn’t have that with Argentina.

When I was nine years old I watched a 17-year old Messi play against Colombia and I was not the same. I was enchanted, I never thought about that moment as a life-changing moment in my life. Not only as a sports fan but in my personal life. Messi is not only my favorite player and athlete, he’s one of my heroes.

When Messi was 12 years old he had to move to Barcelona to be able to pay for his medical treatment and pursue his soccer dream. When I was 12 years old I had to move from Colombia to the United States and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I have a connection with Messi, I don’t know him but I know what it’s like being pulled away from everything you’ve ever known and start over just so you can do what you love.

When I was alone and couldn’t speak English, Messi kept me company and when I started to fit into the culture, Messi and soccer is what gave me something to make friends and be different.

I grew up watching Messi and I saw how he became the best soccer player in the world. I grew up and I became a young woman with ambitions and aspirations, shaped and helped by Messi.

When I see Messi, I see someone who has fought and battled for everything he has. He makes me cry and makes me happy like no one else could. He makes this sport so much fun to watch and I can say I wouldn’t love soccer as much as I do if it wasn’t for that random soccer game I watched between Argentina and Colombia.

Seeing Messi is being transported in time to a place where everything slows down and the ball is all that matters. Seeing Messi play is being treated to the highest quality entertainment the world can offer.


Daniela Marulanda is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at daniela.marulanda@uconn.edu.