Andy Mitten

Another day, another gong for Messi

Andy Mitten

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Most days
after training, an employee of FC Barcelona goes to collect Lionel Messi.
Sometimes the Argentinian is still in training kit, at other times he's
showered and ready to go home.

Messi is
escorted to meet a waiting camera crew or photographer, where he is presented
with an award individual award, usually one for him being the planet's best
player. It might be a British magazine or a Uruguayan television station, a
Japanese newspaper or Argentinian website. The exchange usually takes two
minutes, with Messi gratefully accepting the accolade with a murmured 'thank
you.'

Maybe he
answers a question or two but little else - it's not a good idea for Messi to
be doing an interview every day of the year. Nor is he that way inclined.
Messi's life story is incredible, but he's not the best person to tell it. His
natural disposition is one of shyness, unless his brothers are around and
that's when he comes out of his shell.

So while
his team-mates return to their cars like footballers around the world,
clutching a designer wash bag, phone or signed shirt for a family friend, Messi
also has a silver, gold or glass trophy, each a testament to his brilliance.

If such a
thing as trophy fatigue exists, Messi must be one of the few people who would
be entitled to suffer from it. Only two years ago his father would answer
emails on his son's behalf and keep cuttings. Now, the family need to take out
an industrial sized unit to store all his trophies. It's a problem which footballers
around the world would love to have, but even Messi has his limits.

One reason
these presentations take place at their state of the art training ground on the
edge of the city is that Barca have called time on the number of awards
ceremonies which he attends. Of course they appreciate the plaudits their star
player receives, but he also has a job to do. He has to train and rest and it
matters not even if a private jet is laid on for him.

There are
exceptions. Even Messi would look foolish snubbing the European Footballer of
the Year or World Player of the Year. And the European Golden Shoe was awarded
to him on the pitch before Barça's disappointing draw with Mallorca on Sunday
night, which featured Andres Iniesta getting brilliantly nutmegged.

Usually
though, the mountain must move to Messi - such as on Monday night when Messi
was handed the Pichichi for being Spain's top scorer last season with 34 league
goals. He also received the Premi Di Stefano as the league's best player for
the second consecutive season. These were sponsored by Marca - the best-selling
Madrid-based Madrid sportspaper/cheerleader. Among the other awards was the
Trofeu Zamora to goalkeeper Victor Valdes for conceding just 24 goals in 38
games last season. And the Zarra (named after another ex-Primera Liga legend)
trophy to David Villa for being the leading Spanish goalscorer last season with
21 goals for Valencia.

None of the
decorated Barca players travelled to the gala ceremony in Madrid, which brought
a smirk to the lips of many a Barca supporter. Pep Guardiola is not a fan of
Marca, nor its editor who released a video editorial before April's Clasico
urging Madrid's players to stop Messi by any methods possible using "civil
or criminal means".

Hence the
presentations in the relatively humble, workaday environs of Barca's training
ground. Just another day at the office for Messi.

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