TURNS out Harry Redknapp wasn’t the only person who thought international superstar Lionel Messi looks like a bit of a runt – he was turned down as a youngster for being too small.
Ahead of his man-of-the-match showing in the Champions League final, the Spurs manager said: “He’s a skinny runt who looks nothing like a modern-day footballer really.
“He has funny little legs that move awkwardly when he runs and if he turned up at your club as a 16-year-old, you’d send him away with a pat on the head and tell him he’d no chance of making it.”
Looks like that off-the-cuff remark was actually close to the truth – as a hormonal problem threatened to stunt his growth and stop his footballing career at River Plate in Argentina.
Luckily Barcelona took the chance and signed him up aged 13 and agreed to pay his medical bills.
Messi said: “I was told I would never be a footballer.
“But being smaller forced me to be faster. Disbelievers, critics and naysayers made me more determined than ever.
“With the support of my family I moved to Spain with the chance to play for Barça.
“It was an opportunity to be the player that I always dreamed I could be.”
ROUSING stuff, sends a shiver down your spine – is it bad that I’ve listened to this about a dozen times today?
Bring on Barcelona vs. Man Utd already!
EVERTON and Tottenham Hotspur are chasing the signiture of the footballer who’s scored the most goals ever at the World Cup finals.
The English clubs have been alerted to the fact that veteran German international Miroslav Klose is stalling on a new deal at Bayern Munich and could be moving on.
Although the 32-year-old could be heading to Italy or Spain, I hope he comes to the Premier League – he’s a dead-eyed, cold-hearted, lethal finisher of the highest order, and that’s something that both Everton and Spurs lacked last term.
Plus he wears his shorts’ waistband impossibly high when he plays, like an old man.
Just an observation.
IS JOSE Mourinho in London?
Could he be in line for a shock return to Chelsea?
Goaltastic has received a tip off from a Spanish mole who seems to think he’s about to depart Real Madrid for a return to the Blues – and he’s sent us photographic and video evidence to prove it.
Goaltastic however begs to differ – this is most clearly codswallop – but it’s pretty neat the lengths my ‘topo’ is going to to convince me.
There’s more below, click the pics to embiggen…
Pretty Special, huh?
MIDFIELD dynamo Park Ji Sung has revealed what puts the spring in his step – or should that be hop.
Because the tireless Manchester United player’s physique was boosted at a young age when he was toad – sorry, told – to drink a special frog juice drink.
He said, as reported at the excellent Off The Post: “My father went to catch wild frogs. I was skinny and weak and my father heard their juice would give me size and strength.
“It tasted very, very bad but I had to drink it because I wanted to be a footballer and everyone said I needed to be bigger and stronger.
“They said it was good for my health to become stronger and I ate anything that would improve my health.”
Don’t try this at home, kids – you might end up croaking.
AFTER winning more than a few admirers at the centre of the recently-relegated Blackpool team, Charlie Adam is set for a swift return to the big time.
Boss Ian Holloway is keen to retain the services of the midfielder – and this week Adam extended his contract with the Seasiders for 12 more months.
But clubs like Liverpool, Spurs and Manchester United have been linked to the player previously – and he has today stated his desire to play in the Premiership: “My future is that I want to play in the Premier League. I want to play at the top and hopefully the opportunity comes.
“Whatever happens, I will always remember my time at Blackpool.”
Surely now it’s a case of ‘where’ rather than ‘if’…
PIN back you lugholes – here’s today’s best football story from the papers.
No, it’s not the news that QPR might sack Neil Warnock and hire recently toppled Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti.
No, it’s the build-up to the season’s showcase match, the Champions League final.
No, it’s not the claims of more bribery and corruption in the game’s top organisation, FIFA.
No, it’s not that Chelsea are planning a £35m double swoop for Belgians Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne.
It’s this humdinger from The Sun: “Soccer’s Jermaine Pennant has had an operation to pin back his sticky-out ears.”
Talk about ear-responsible journalism…
AS SUMMER transfer season is now just about upon us, a number of clubs are already declaring their intentions when it comes to staffing.
For example, rumours abound that Michael Owen and Owen Hargreaves will no longer be owen-d by manchester United come the Summer, and even Joey Barton’s rise in form last season can’t secure a contract offer at Newcastle.
Now many clubs have yet to announce who’ll be dropping from their roster – meaning this reject squad could be boosted considerably in the coming weeks – but Goaltastic reckons a pretty decent lower-Premiership, upper-Championship side could still be formed by managers operating on a shoestring at present.
What do you all think to this line-up, made up of recently ex-Blackpool, Newcastle, West Brom, Bolton and Cardiff players?
GK – Kingson
DEF – Samuel, Campbell, Meite, Zuiverloon
MID – Reid, Cohen, Barnes, Elmander
ATK – Harewood, Bothroyd
ARSENE Wenger looks set to break his big spending transfer duck by splashing the cash on Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema.
After another potless season and rumours of an exodus of top players from Arsenal – led by wantaways Gael Clichy and Nicklas Bendtner – Wenger has hinted he may finally dip into his transfer war chest.
Speaking about the possibility of landing £35m-rated Benzema, he said: “Signing him does not seem impossible. He’s a player that I like.
“He’s intelligent in his movement, he is capable of combining well with others and making a difference, and of doing individual moves as well.
“So, for me, he’s a player who’s at the top level in the world.”
MOST men would rather see their team play in the Champions League final than go on a romantic date with a supermodel.
The survey for cometition sponsor Heineken showed 52 per cent of blokes would plump for the football rather than go for a candle-lit rendez vous with the likes of Tyra Banks or Heidi Klum.
A spokesman said: “It just goes to show how the tournament captures the imagination of men around the world and the lengths people would go to in order to see their favourite team triumph in Wembley and be crowned champions of Europe.”
Of course, none of this will ever be a problem for me – I’m a Middlesbrough supporter.