It was released from Newell’s, it was tested in Chile and Bulgaria: the story of Rodrigo Messi, the older brother who inspired Lionel to be a footballer

The Messi family, in a photo taken by El Grafico in 2003

The great prop of the Messi family was Lionel, but the forerunner in football was his older brother Rodrigo. Jorge’s three successors (Matías, the one in the middle, is added) inherited the passion for baseball and pursued the dream of succeeding in their favorite sport. The greatest had enormous conditions, but different reasons led him to leave his illusions on the way to finally join other tasks. The story of Rodrigo Martín Messi is that of a crack that was not.

For the late 1980s and early 1990s, the small Leo He was already chasing his older brothers Rodrigo and Matías through the streets of the General Las Heras neighborhood, south of Rosario, with a ball in his arms. In the Messi house, bread was literally never lacking, since Don Eusebio Messi and his wife Doña Rosa (Jorge’s parents) had a bakery business in the neighborhood. Very occasionally the children received a toy more expensive than normal; what was never missing was the ball.

Lionel practically walked the mark left by Rodrigo, started in the baby soccer of the Grandoli Club, where Jorge was a coach at the time, and then in the Infantiles and Inferiores of Newell’s. At home there was pica: dad, Rodrigo and Lionel were fans of the Leprosy; Matías became Central. Mama Celia (aka Puchi) was the one who put cold cloths on each other’s Chicanas so that peace reigned in the home.

Matías (left), Lionel (middle) and Rodrigo (right): the Messi brothers
Matías (left), Lionel (middle) and Rodrigo (right): the Messi brothers

From the Soccer School that Newell’s has located in the heart of the city of Rosario called Malvinas Argentinas, where in many videos you see him Mess dribbling rivals on dirt courts when he was a child, Rodrigo jumped to the one in Bella Vista, where the youth who went from the Fourth to the Ninth Division trained. Jorge Messi came to tell that despite the fact that Leo He was five and seven years younger than his older brothers, he joined the gangs that were armed in the neighborhood and was not out of tune. On the contrary, he stood out. Even so, Rodrigo (right, unlike his successor) was a number 8 or hitch with very rich qualities.

Those who observed him at that time in the minors red and black remember him as an attacking midfielder in the style of the Equi González (the former Central and Boca), with driving technique, good ball protection, dribbling and balls filtered into space. There are even those who claim that the typical diagonals from midfield to the midfield that characterized Lionel throughout his career were rehearsed by Rodrigo many years before.

Jorge worked 12 hours a day at the Acindar metallurgical company and, when time allowed, he settled on the outskirts of the fields where his children played to watch them in silence. In the mid to late 1990s, Lionel began to make a name for himself with the Category 87 from Newell’s, at the same time that Rodrigo was approaching Reserve age with the 80 from the Parque Independencia club. Players such as Sebastian Dominguez, Cristian Grabinski, Sergio Almiron (son of the world champion in Mexico 86), Gabriel Ruiz, Rubén Darío Gigena and Matías Pavoni. However, Rodrigo’s dream was cut short: he was released in the Fifth Division.

The four Messi brothers, including the youngest María Sol (Rodrigo, squatting next to her)
The four Messi brothers, including the youngest María Sol (Rodrigo, squatting next to her)

Affected emotionally, equally his illusions did not give up and he ended up in Central Cordoba de Rosario. The difference was notorious because it went from competing in the lower AFA clubs of a First Club to those of an entity that was in the Metropolitan B and barely disputed the Rosarina League. Jorge Messi had some short circuit with Roberto Puppo, who was General Coordinator of the Newell’s Juniors and had made Rodrigo go down to an “intermediate” group in Category 80 before giving him the pass. It was with him that he discussed the cost of coverage for Lionel’s growth vaccines shortly after. At the request of the president Edward Lopez, his interlocutor argued that the club did not have the resources to promote his physical development. The story had been written.

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A few years ago, Celia Cuccittini (aka Puchi) I declare that “Newell’s doesn’t exist for me”. That is a phrase that describes the enormous disgust that these two situations generated in the Messi family. The first dagger to the heart was letting Rodrigo go free; the second that Lionel was denied the cost of treatment. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the country’s economic crisis, which led Jorge to take the firm stance of seeking asylum abroad where his youngest son could exploit his soccer conditions. incentivized by the case of Leandro Depetris in Milanthe Messi ventured to the test in Barcelona hand in hand with the first representative of LeoFabian Soldini.

The Messi family in Barcelona (year 2001)
The Messi family in Barcelona (year 2001)

In September 2000, Jorge, Lionel and Soldini traveled to Catalonia for the famous test that lasted two weeks at La Masía. Without too many details about his signing, the trio returned to Rosario waiting for news. As soon as 2001 began, the papers were signed and Leo joined the youth culésdespite the fact that he spent several months without officially competing because Newell’s did not release his pass (which is why FIFA intervened). Celia, Rodrigo, Matias and Maria Sol They settled in a cute but modest apartment located in the surroundings of the Barcelona Sports City, next to George and Lionel. Although the language helped for the general development, they never finished finding each other and returned to their native Rosario a few months later.

Old enough to jump to a professional squad, Soldini got Rodrigo Messi a trial in the second team of the Catholic University of Chile. Those were times when Argentines Marcelo Carracedo (former Central), Iván Gabrich and Pablo Lenci (former Newell’s), among others, had appeared. But after a few days in Santiago, they gave him the thumbs down and the expectation of relaunching his career dissipated.

The last attempt was in Europe, more precisely in the CSKA Sofia. At the beginning of the Messi family in Barcelona, ​​an office called BEABthe initials of Barcelona (with Josep Minguela as representative), Spain (with the Argentine Horacio Gaggioli), Argentina and Brazil (by Juan Matteo, the intermediary who had arranged for Lionel to test at Barça). Fought Tanev, a Bulgarian member of this group who was in charge of containing and advising the Messi family financially and logistically, was the one who managed the test for Rodrigo Messi at the most important club in the country.

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The climate, the culture, the uprooting and the competition that there was in a team that had footballers of the stature of the local team threatened Rodrigo’s chances, who resigned definitively.

Rodrigo Messi, in 2013, received an exact gold replica of his brother Lionel's left foot in Japan (Koki Nagahama/Getty Images)
Rodrigo Messi, in 2013, received an exact gold replica of his brother Lionel’s left foot in Japan (Koki Nagahama/Getty Images)

In the midst of rethinking his personal future, Lionel began to make a name for himself in the Barça youth team, quickly jumping to the first team and debuting with the U20 of the Argentine team, with which he stood out in the 2005 South American Championship in Colombia and exploded at the World Cup in Holland that same year. The race of Leo It was pure vertigo and Jorge needed trustworthy people around him. In that sense, Rodrigo began to officiate as the right hand and he interspersed stays in Rosario and Catalonia until finally settling in Europe.

The eldest of the Messi brothers was one of the shoulders on which he constantly leaned Leo in the face of every football adversity. She accompanied him spiritually, she saw him live on each court where she played with the shirt blaugrana and the Argentine national team and also on the legal plane, gradually becoming a kind of personal advisor. Rodrigo battalion por su hermano in every way: from the stands, where he starred in a brawl in the Copa América final that was played in 2015 in Santiago, to the Catalan courts, where he escorted him along with his father Jorge to the hearing for the fraud case tax that was carried out in 2016.

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Some time ago, the “Messi brand” had already done the boom and Lionel had placed himself on the pedestal of football and world sport. The fortune that generated the left-handed booty of Leo It was invested in several businesses, among which were the gastronomic sector, in charge of Rodrigo with an important restaurant in Barcelona, ​​and hotel business, among others. But her family passion for football led to the new facet of the oldest of the Messi brothers: player representation.

Matías, Rodrigo and Leo Messi, in a more current image
Matías, Rodrigo and Leo Messi, in a more current image

Under his tutelage was the Spanish naturalized Bisauguinean winger Ansu Fatiwho ceased to be in charge in mid-2020 when the Portuguese Jorge Mendes (known for advising Cristiano Ronaldo) became his agent, just after Lionel announced his departure from Barcelona to go to Paris Saint Germain. Rodrigo created the agency Kin Sport Management and on his radar today are promises like the 18-year-old Ecuadorian Diego Almeida and the American of 21 Conrad of the Source (emerged in the Barça youth academy, today at Olympiacos in Greece). It has long been known that the Newell’s midfielder John Sforza He has a close link with the Messi and even showed himself in pictures with his brother Matías.

Leo He is focused 100% on the start of the season with PSG and the 2022 Qatar World Cup. He has not yet provided details about his professional future (his contract with the French expires in the middle of next year) and three viable alternatives arise: renew in Princes Park, return to Barcelona or explore in the United States MLS. It is likely that Rodrigo, launched to represent soccer players, has interference when it comes to negotiating the contract that his younger brother and idol is going to sign – he has it tattooed on his left shoulder blade – Lionel.

Today Rodrigo Messi’s dreams are still linked to football thanks to the colossal trajectory traced by his brother Lionel. The unbreakable brotherly bond led them to be reciprocal pillars in their respective lives and careers. And, in both directions, they still have a long way to go.

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