Lionel Messi has continued to point to the heavens every time he scores as part of a fitting tribute to Grandma Celia.
Celia died in 1998 when the Barcelona superstar was only 11 and she was instrumental in supporting him in football at a very young age.
And a story of Messi recalling his experience with Celia has resurfaced online and reveals how she pushed the manager of a local football club to allow him to play against the bigger players.
The Argentine forward said: “I was small, we would all go to the neighbourhood club to where the whole family always went; my brother and cousins would all play, each in their respective category as we were all of different ages.
“I was one of the youngest ones and therefore there were no categories for me yet, but one of them was missing a player and so my grandmother told the manager ‘to let me play,’ to which the manager replied, ‘How can we let him play? He is too small, he cannot play.’
“Despite this, my grandmother still insisted ‘let him play, let him play.’ She was very much loved by everyone at the club and continued to demand I be put in until they did.
“I scored two goals although truthfully, I do not remember much as I was quite young, but that is the story as my grandmother used to tell it.”
Michael Part has backed up the story in the third chapter of ‘The Flea — The Amazing Story of Leo Messi.’
During the chapter ‘The Worst Team In Town,’ a young Messi voiced his frustration of not playing football and Celia suggested that he could play for the ‘worst team in the town,’ Grandoli.
“It might be good for you that they are doing so poorly,” Celia said.
When a confused Messi pressed her on why that would be good news for him, she responded: “A lousy team needs a great player, right?”
Still confused by what she was trying to imply, Celia told the young Messi: “You, Leo. They need you. They have no idea how good you are. So we will show them.”
According to Part, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner was ‘beaming’ at her response and Celia held true to her word and said she would “talk to the coach.”
Celia convinced the coach, Aparicio, to hand ‘little Leo’ a chance on the pitch, despite being critical of his size compared to the other players.
And Messi surpassed all expectations and left Aparicio dumbfounded with his dribbling ability.
Aparicio told Celia: “Did you see that? They couldn’t shake him! He is like a flea you can’t get rid of!”
But the defining moment for Messi came when his strong left-footed finish made it through the goalkeeper’s legs and his celebration was born.
Part wrote: “He could not hear the cheering [after he scored the goal]. All he could hear was his grandma shouting his name.
“He looked over to the stands and when he saw her, he smiled. Then he raised his two fingers in the air as if to say, ‘That was for you, Grandma.’
Messi is expected to return from injury for Barcelona’s Sunday clash with Real Betis at the Camp Nou.
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Featured Image Credit: PA