Few or no one really talks much about the Olympics when it comes to football, but surely the players must be appreciating the medals they have earned. Lionel Messi is one of those footballers winning the gold medal.
We have to go back to Beijing and 2008 to find the amazing story of one of they greatest players ever to have walked on the planet Earth to win a Olympic gold medal. This great achievement, which in a way, would make a you folk hero in any other sport is seldom talked about or recognized when “counting” honors in the life of Lionel Messi.
The tournament for football in the Olympics has been restricted since after the World War II,. In the first years after, only amateurs could participate, so then a tournament dominated by Eastern European states with previous winners in those early years being among them Hungary, Poland and East Germany.
But the real fact is that those teams winning the Olympic Gold had some fantastic players in there. who later became “World Stars” in the World Cup’s and in the domestic professional game.
Argentina were the holding champions when they entered the Beijing tournament, being the title winners in Athens four years earlier. Lionel Messi was 21 in 2008, and was well established in the Barcelona first team. The Olympic footbal in Beijing was based on a U.23 scale and players had to be under that age, with three players allowed to be over aged.
Argentina with Messi in there, played Ivory Coast, Australia and Serbia in the opening round, with Messi scoring the opening goal after 43 minutes against the Ivory’s. Ezequiel Lavezzi, Angel di Maria, Juan Roman Riquelme, Javier Mascherano, Pablo Zabaleta and Sergio Aguero was other players in this team.
Messi played a vital part as the Argentinian team went through to the final scoring again in the quarter final v. Holland, and with Aguero (2) and Riquelme, Brazil was defeated 3-0 in the Semi’s. The unbeaten run of games was completed in the final v. Nigeria, winning 1-0 with Angel Di Maria scoring. Messi played in all but one game, missing the third game of the group stages v. Serbia.
Despite being an U.23 team you have to smile and look at the line-up, it’s one great and all players at the time and also later were among the greatest players ever to be playing for Argentina. Olympic football tournaments can give you an opener and actually be seen as an exciting event despite never being given full credit, at least in Europe and by FIFA and UEFA.
But now you know that Lionel Messi actually is an Olympic Gold winner and he became one at the age of 21. As one of the greatest players ever he has not yet managed to win the World Cup, but at least he can look at this medal, which in every other sport is worth it’s weight and seen as the most valuable, it should surely be, also for Lionel Messi.