LIONEL MESSI – DIEGO MARADONA’S SUCCESSOR

Lionel Andrés Messi (born June 24, 1987 in Rosario) is an Argentine football (soccer) player. Lionel Messi started playing football at a very early age in his hometown’s Newell’s Old Boys. From the age of 11, he suffered from a hormone deficiency and as Lionel’s parents were unable to pay for the treatment in Argentina, they decided to move to Barcelona, Spain.

In the 2003-2004 season, when he was still only 16, Messi made his first team debut in a friendly with Porto that marked the opening of the new Dragao stadium. The following championship-winning season, Messi made his first appearance in an official match on October 16, 2004, in Barcelona’s derby win against Espanyol at the Olympic Stadium (0-1).

With several first team players seriously injured, the services of several reserve team players were called upon, and Messi became a regular feature of Barça squads. On May 1, 2005, he became the youngest player ever to score a league goal for FC Barcelona against Albacete when Messi was only 17 years, 10 months and 7 days old.

He was offered the chance to play for the Spain national football team, but declined, prefering to wait for the opportunity to play for the country of his birth. In June 2004 he got his chance, playing in a U-20 friendly match against Paraguay. In June 2005 he starred for the Argentina U-20 team that won the Football World Youth Championship played in The Netherlands. Messi picked up the Golden Boot as top scorer with 6 goals, and the Golden Ball for the best player of the tournament. Despite his youth, Lionel has already drawn comparisons with Diego Maradona, arguably the best football player of all time.

On September 25, 2005 Messi obtained a Spanish citizenship and was finally able to make his debut in this season’s Spanish First Division. He had previously been unable to play because FC Barcelona had filled up all of their quota of non-EU players. Messi’s first outing in the UEFA Champions League at the Nou Camp was on Sept 28 against Italian club Udinese. He impressed with some great passing and a seemingly telepathic relationship with Ronaldinho that earned him a standing ovation from the 70,000-odd Nou Camp faithful. On December of that year, the Italian newspaper Tuttosport awarded him the Golden Boy 2005 title for the best under-21 player in Europe, over Wayne Rooney and Lukas Podolski.

In September 2005, Messi was given an improved and extended contract until 2014.

Checkout the ASCII Art of Lionel Messi in the below link. Please use Lucida Console font to view the art in Notepad. Before that in Notepad go to Format and Uncheck the Word Warp and then Go to Font and Reduce the Font Size to 3 to 4 pt. Use only Lucida Console Font.

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DAVID BECKHAM – THE ENGLISH FOOTBALLER

David was born on May 2, 1975 in Leytonstone, London to Ted and Sandra Beckham. David’s parents were Manchester United supporters and he accompanied then to many of the games. He signed for Manchester United as a trainee in July 1991 and he was instrumental in helping the club win the FA Youth Cup in May 1992, scoring in the second leg of the final against Crystal Palace. On September 23, 1992, David made his first team debut as a substitute in the Rumbelows Cup tie at Brighton and Hove Albion.During the two-and-a-half year wait to make his League debut, he collected a runners-up medal in the 1993 FA Youth Cup (United lost to Leeds in the final) and a reserve team championship medal in 1994. He also played five matches on loan for Preston North End, scoring two goals for the Lancashire club. His Premier League debut eventually came at home to Leeds United on April 2, 1995. Partially as a result of injuries to key starters, David established himself in the first team during the 1995/96 season.David played predominantly in the right midfield position that used to be occupied by Andrei Kanchelskis, and started to show the knack for scoring great goals, including the winner in the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea. At the end of the season Man United walked away with their second Double. The springboard that launched Davids’s famous career came during the 1996/97 season. David was compared to Pele when he scored his most famous goal – from the halfway line against Wimbledon at Selhurst Park. He went on to earn his first senior cap for England, on September 1, 1996 against Moldova in Kishinev.David’s match-winning performances during 1996/97 helped United to win another Premiership title and reach the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League. On a personal level, he was voted Young Player of the Year and second in the overall Player of the Year poll. Manchester United’s 1997/98 season was one to forget as they finished second to Arsenal in the League, lost to Barnsley in the FA Cup and were knocked out of the Champions League quarter-finals by Monaco. David enjoyed a memorable moment, when he was selected for England’s World Cup Finals squad.

During the 1998 World Cup Finals Beck scored a stunning freekick for England against Colombia and was hailed a national hero. He was later branded a villain, however, when he was sent off for a foul on Diego Simeone as England were knocked out in the second round by Argentina. That was the first red card of his career. The World Cup Finals left David at the bottom of his career. He was a hated man in England and many predicted the end of his football areer. He mustered up the courage and resilience to bounce back and prove his critcs wrong. In the first League game of the 1998/99 season against Leicester City, he curled in one of his trademark freekicks in stoppage time to prevent defeat.

If England’s 1998 World Cup campaign was the depth of dispair for Beckham, them Manchester United’s successful Trebble season in 1998/1999 was the height of ecstacy. The most important match of that season was the UEFA Champions League Finals with Bayern Munich. Manchester’s 2 goals were scored off corner kicks taken by David Beckham in overtime. The goals were scored by substitutes Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. England eventually forgave Beckham for his 1998 World Cup sins and readily accepted him as the captain of the national team.

Beckham captained England for the first time in a friendly match in Italy and retained the armband for the friendly with Spain and the World Cup qualifiers against Albania and Finland, against whom he scored an important goal at Anfield. He went on to lead to team to the 2002 World Cup Finals. In the game against Argentina, he scored the only goal – a penalty after Michaels Owens was tripped up. Argentina had a premature exit from the tournament after drawing 1-1 with Sweden in their next match.

The 2002/03 season was not a memorable one for Beckham as he found himself on the bench for some key matches. In a bizarre incident, he was struck on the forehead by a stray boot that was kicked in frustration by Sir Alex Ferguson in the dressing room. Rumors that he and the boss were not on speaking terms fueled the speculation that he would be sold at the end on the season. Unfortunately for many Manchester United fans, the rumors turned out to be true. David Beckham was sold to Real Madrid for £25 million. After more than 3 years at the Bernabeu, Beckham moved to the USA. David Beckham agreed to a £128million ($250 million) five-year deal with the LA Galaxy. Beckham already has a soccer academy in Los Angeles which shares a home with the Galaxy.

Checkout the ASCII Art of David Beckham in the below link. Please use Lucida Console font to view the art in Notepad. Before that in Notepad go to Format and Uncheck the Word Warp and then Go to Font and Reduce the Font Size to 3 to 4 pt. Use only Lucida Console Font.

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ROBINHO – THE BRAZILIAN PEARL

Robson de Souza (born January 25, 1984 in Sao Vicente, Brazil), nicknamed Robinho (Little Robson), is a Brazilian footballer currently playing for Real Madrid and the Brazilian national team. Robinho has earned praise for his expert use of the pedalada and field speed. He is widely regarded as one of the best young players in the world.

Born in Parque Bitaru, a poor neighborhood of Sao Vicente, Robinho took to playing football when he had little other. At six, Robinho was taken on by Beira-Mar, a local escolinha, and they took the championship in his first year. Robinho was claimed to look just like his teammate Marcelo, the spanish fans called them “the two twins”.

In 1993, at the age of nine, Robinho drew attention by scoring 73 goals for the Portuerios futsal team. Robinho joined the Santos youth program, at the time was overseen by Brazilian football legend Pele. Pele brought Robinho into the Santos FC youth dorms, where Robinho received his first regular schedule of three meals a day.

In 2002, Robinho graduated to the Santos first team. His work at the front helped them win the Brazilian National Championships in 2002 and 2004, as well as place second to Boca Juniors in the 2003 Copa Libertadores. Robinho’s contributions to Santos attracted a great deal of attention from the top European football clubs. A world class player that looks to be on the verge of a European move.

Robinho’s skill drew the offers of several European clubs, but it took the kidnapping of his mother in late 2004 to convince him to leave. On July 31, 2005, Robinho signed with Real Madrid for five years at $30 million and joined his fellow Brazilian internationals Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos and Jalio Baptista. He made his La Liga debut on August 28 in a 2-1 victory against Cadiz as a second half substitute for Thomas Gravesen. In his first season, Robinho scored eight goals, but the arrival of Josa Antonio Reyes has brought the length of Robinho’s stay into question. One of his most recent performances though, in the “El Clesico” against Barcelona, which he earned the Man of the Match award may have impressed Fabio Capello. It has been reported that on 12th February Robinho may be allowed to leave Real Madrid for a fee of $30 million at the end of the season.

Meanwhile, Robinho backed again that decision saying he’d like to prove himself that he is capable of impressing his coach and teammates.

NATIONAL TEAM

In 2003, Robinho was called up to join the prestigious ranks of the Brazilian national football team. His first international appearance came in the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup final, where despite his team’s loss, Robinho displayed his talent on the international stage.

Robinho played in each game of the 2006 FIFA World Cup group stage, but only started in the final game against Japan. Many fans say he should be on the starting lineup, but his small size is a disadvantage when playing against bigger players. However, whenever he had the playing chance he showed impressive signs and managed to dribble past even the world class defenders.

MEDIA COVERAGE

Like many talented young Brazilian footballers, Robinho has been compared to his nation’s great players by both fans and the sports media. Robinho’s footwork and mercurial speed has many believing that he can carry on the mantle of Pele, Garrincha and Romario in Brazilian football.

As of late, fans have also begun to foment a potential rivalry between Robinho and Argentinian striker Lionel Messi, who has been hailed as a wonderkid in football, and therefore a natural counterpart to Robinho. Contrasts between the two include the fact that they each represent rival Latin American football powerhouses (Brazil and Argentina) they play opposite each other in the premiere rival clubs of La Liga (Robinho for Real Madrid and Messi for FC Barcelona) and interestingly, there are the comparisons to the greatest living footballers in the world (Messi has been hailed by Argentinian fans and media as “the new Maradona” and Robinho with Pele). He has never gone on record to say his club football desires, yet there has been speculation that he would like to go to either Italy or England in the future.

Robinho also shares the same birthday as the legendary Portuguese football player, Eusebio. In February, 2007, Robinho was quoted as saying “Reports that I’d move to Tottenham are wide of the mark. If I had to leave Real, I’d choose to join another a big club. I don’t regard Tottenham Hotspur as a big club.”

Checkout the ASCII Art of Robinho in the below link. Please use Lucida Console font to view the art in Notepad. Before that in Notepad go to Format and Uncheck the Word Warp and then Go to Font and Reduce the Font Size to 3 to 4 pt. Use only Lucida Console Font.

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KAKA – THE BRAZILIAN MIDFIELDER

Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite (born April 22, 1982 in Brasília, Brazil), simply known as Kaká, is a Brazilian footballer who plays as a midfielder for Brazil and the Serie A club A.C. Milan. He is one of the budding young stars in world football.

FAMILY

Kaká’s younger brother Rodrigo Izecson Dos Santos Leite, known as Digão, followed in his brother’s footsteps and is currently on loan with Serie B team Rimini, after having spent some time in the AC Milan youth squad.

NICKNAME

The nickname Kaká, from his native Portuguese, is pronounced as it is spelt. The accent would signify that the stress is on the second syllable. In Italian, the language of his current team, the phonetic equivalent is written as Kakà, which is used for Italian television graphics. However, the player’s shirt name is spelt KAKA’ (with an apostrophe, rather than an accented ‘A’) for both Brazil and Milan.  An internet discussion forum explains the nickname as a commonly used shortened form of “Ricardo” in Portuguese. Kaká is supposed to have got his nickname because his little brother Rodrigo could not pronounce the word “Ricardo” when they were young. Rodrigo called his older brother “Caca\ Kaká suffered an accident when he made a faulty jump off a diving-board, resulting in a vertebra fracture. This could have meant the end of his football career, but he believes that Jesus allowed him to recover and become the successful footballer he is now. When AC Milan won the Serie A title in 2004, Ricky, as he is called by his team-mates, sported a shirt with an “I Belong to Jesus” slogan. He also points his fingers to the sky as a sign of thanks every time he scores, for apparently the same reason.

MARRIAGE

Kaká married Caroline Celico on 23 December 2005 at the evangelical Reborn in Christ Church in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in a wedding attended by fellow players from his national team, as well as other well known international players. Guests included Ronaldo, Adriano, Cafu, Dida, Julio Baptista and Brazilian national coach Carlos Alberto Parreira. Caroline and Kaká first met in 2002, and started dating soon after. The relationship survived Kaká’s move from Sao Paulo to Italy in 2003, while Caroline was still at school. It is likely that Caroline will stay in Brazil in the short-run, but the couple plan to live together in Italy very soon.

Checkout the ASCII Art of Kaka in the below link. Please use Lucida Console font to view the art in Notepad. Before that in Notepad go to Format and Uncheck the Word Warp and then Go to Font and Reduce the Font Size to 3 to 4 pt. Use only Lucida Console Font.

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CRISTIANO RONALDO – MANCHESTER UNITED’S YOUNGEST SIGNING

Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro arrived in Manchester amid a media storm. Manchester United had managed to sign the player without the Press suspecting anything. As the Stock Market was told that the player had been signed, hundreds of journalists flooded up to Manchester to get a proper look at one of Manchester United`s youngest signings.

Ronaldo was born on the 5th February 1985, on the small island of Madeira, which is owned by the Portuguese. Named after Ronald Reagan, due to his father`s respect for the man, few would have gambled that this child would make it to the very top of the Football tree, especially with Madeira mainly being used for farm-land. He has one brother and two sisters, and it is family whom he deems most important in his life at the moment. It was on the dusty back-streets of this small island that Ronaldo learnt his first few tricks, and it was also on this Island that he was first scouted. By the age of twelve Ronaldo had established himself as the best player on the Island, able to use his ball skills and pace to get past full-grown defenders for Andorinha.

Having been recognised as a serious talent, all that was left was for the big Portuguese clubs to scrap it out for his signature. Though Porto and Boavista came in for him, he could only ever play for Sporting the club he supported as a boy. He progressed slowly through the youth ranks, although all those who worked with him were impressed with the talent that he had for his age, as well as his maturity.

At the tender age of 17, Ronaldo was thrown in at the deep end with his first game against Moreirense. Two goals on his first appearance not only gave him his dream debut, but also endeared him to the fans, who soon learnt to chant for the ball to be passed to him. A goal against title-rivals Boavista also saw him rise to the top of the “Fan`s Favourites” list.

His skills were watched closely by all of the big clubs in Europe, including Liverpool and Juventus, in the U-17 European Championships. His dazzling skills put England U-17s out, and everyone who watched felt they had seen something special. At the end of his first season at Sporting he was linked to Liverpool. Though he claimed he was extremely happy at Sporting, he was also flattered by the interest of such a big club, who used to do well in the Premier League.

Sporting finished top in the league, and Ronaldo was hailed as the future of the club, alongside Quaresma, another Portuguese Starlet. As it was, both moved away, with the money on the table to much for the Portuguese club to turn down. Best-friend Quaresma ended up at Barcelona, whilst Ronaldo came to the bright red of Manchester. The deal saw Ronald become the most expensive teenage signing in Britain, with Manchester United paying £12.24million over two seasons, in two equal payments. Those who had not seen him play baulked at the price such a lot of money for someone unproven!

Those who had seen the Man Utd vs. Sporting friendly just three days before, however, knew that this player was special. Playing for Sporting, Ronaldo had taken the game to the reds, and was the main reason that Manchester United lost 3-1. After the game, all the United players could talk about was how well Ronaldo had played, and they begged Sir Alex to buy him. Sir Alex had been following him for months, but decided that the time was right not least because other clubs were getting increasingly closer to buying him.

An so, on 12th August 2003, Cristiano Ronaldo held up the famous Red shirt, with his favourite number 7 (it is hero Figo`s number) for all the press to see. A new star had been born. His first performance for the club was against Bolton. He entered the fray with an hour gone, with United 1 0 up. A standing ovation from the fans at old Trafford did nothing to settle his nerves, but he rewarded the fans for their trust. A man-of-the-match performance followed, and Ronaldo became legend. He had a hand in two of the goals, won an unconverted penalty, and mesmerised the Bolton defence.

The next day the media proclaimed him one of the best players ever for United, comparing him with Red-Legend George Best. Much had been seen, but much is still to come.

Checkout the ASCII Art of Cristiano Ronaldo in the below link. Please use Lucida Console font to view the art in Notepad. Before that in Notepad go to Format and Uncheck the Word Warp and then Go to Font and Reduce the Font Size to 3 to 4 pt. Use only Lucida Console Font.

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