It's easy to see how so many kids fall by the wayside because they all have to make decisions, sooner or later - but my son isn't under the roof at La Masia. One of the boys from his team was signed by Barcelona last summer, though, and is now there, under the legendary roof, separated from his parents and apparently miserable. It's not a criticism of La Masia. It's a completely normal state of affairs.Happy shopping everyone.
The story goes that when Messi turned up in Barcelona with his father, at the invitation of the club, it was still touch-and-go as to whether he would really stay. The club had offered to pay for the boy's hormone treatment, and to look into job possibilities for his father. But personnel at the club from that time all recall Messi as looking like he would never last the famous nine days that the club had calculated for a final decision to be made. Apparently he just sat in a corner of La Masia's reception area, looked at the floor and spoke to no-one. When his mother flew over to see if she could help out, and then was forced to return for work reasons, Messi begged to return to Argentina with her. Whoever persuaded him to stay - and most people credit Carles Rexach with that - deserves some kind of award, too.
His Ballon d'Or colleagues had a hard time of it, too. Andres Iniesta, who came from Fuentealbilla, in the province of Albacete, spent most of his first year in tears, and refused to eat for the first two weeks he was there. He still looks vaguely undernourished, but was apparently also close to packing the whole thing in, and has since admitted that if there had been the internet back then, it might have been easier.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Off for a Spell
I'm heading out of town for a week, but I'll be back next Tuesday. I leave you with some interesting stuff about Barça's youth academy by Phil Ball: