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Defining moment: Lionel Messi, a legend forged by Futsal

Lionel Messi graced the Nou Camp pitch as a promising 17-year-old on October 16, 2004 for his home debut and the rest as they say, is history…

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Playing futsal helped turn Lionel Messi into a footballing legend.

In his eight-minute cameo against Espanyol, few could have predicted how Messi would go on to dazzle the football world for a decade. Wearing the No.30 shirt, Messi replaced goalscorer Deco in a 1-0 win at Montjuic to become Barca’s youngest-ever player in La Liga at 17 years and 114 days.

Messi would go on to be regarded as one of the world’s greatest ever players, if not, the best ever. In 10 years with the first team, the Argentine forward has played 434 games, scoring a mammoth 361 goals and hauled in 21 trophies.

Those include six Primera Division titles, three Champions League crowns and four Ballon D’ors during his time at Camp Nou. Last Saturday Lionel Messi celebrated the 10th anniversary of his Barcelona debut with a brilliant goal against Eibar. He is now only two strikes away from becoming La Liga’s all-time top goalscorer as he closes in on Telmo Zarra’s record of 251.

He is now 27 and one of the key aspects to Messi’s genius was due to growing up playing Futsal. The four-time FIFA World Player of the Year and Barcelona’s all-time leading scorer took his first footballing steps with a ball in the colours of Newell’s Old Boys, although he was playing futsal rather than football.

Messi once famously stated, “As a little boy in Argentina, I played futsal on the streets and for my club. It was tremendous fun, and it really helped me become who I am today”

What is Futsal?

  • It was first discovered Uruguay in 1932
  • It is usually played on a hard indoor court with no walls
  • Five players on each side, one of whom is a goalkeeper. Unlimited substitutions allowed
  • A smaller ball than a regular-sized football is used
  • Hugely popular in Brazil, Spain, Italy and Iran

Futsal is a fast paced, high intensity sport that originated in South America in the 1930s. It is widely played across the world and is the small-sided football format that is officially recognised by both Uefa and Fifa.

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The fast paced nature of the game relies on quick thinking and technical skill in tight spaces. Therefore, it is no wonder that famous footballers such as Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho and David Silva had all started by playing Futsal. The game is an excellent breeding ground for football skills that can be translated into the 11-a-side format of the game. Sports Halls in the UK such as Barking Sporthouse have been developed to encourage people to play more Futsal in the hopes that a possible English Messi can one day be developed through grassroots.

If you would like to play Futsal there are a host of venues in London which give you the opportunity to play. Barking Sporthouse is a brilliant venue to test your abilities and follow in the footsteps of Lionel Messi.


BY - Finn Mongey

20 October 2014