lionel messi paper cover story leo messi
PAPER / Carles Carabí

The 2018 World Cup kicks off on June 14, and NYC-based publication PAPER, has further anointed Lionel Messi‘s status as soccer’s G.O.A.T. The Barcelona superstar forward is depicted with an actual goat for the magazine’s latest issue.

Messi supporters claim that the five-time world player of the year is the greatest of all time, leading FC Barcelona to 32 trophies, won an Olympic gold medal with Team Argentina and holds the Guinness World Record for most goals scored in a season, however, Cristiano Ronaldo supporters will proudly disagree.

In PAPER‘s feature of the “world’s greatest soccer (football) player,” Leo Messi talks about his determined effort, the desire to constantly improve and to finally achieve a World Cup championship for Argentina. Here’s a few takeaways from the interview.

On being the best, with the list of his achievements and worldwide adoration…

LM: “I don’t consider myself the best, I think I am just another player. On the field, we are all the same when the game begins.”

On appreciating his achievements, such as scoring more than 40 goals for the past nine seasons, a new record…

LM: “I take each day as a challenge and I always try to outdo myself, I have always been like this.”

On recalling his first time in Barcelona as a 13-year-old…

LM: “I remember that when we arrived here we realized that there wasn’t such a big cultural barrier. Barcelona is a city that really cares for foreigners, it is used to receiving thousands and thousands of visitors.”

On preparing for the 2018 World Cup, after losing to Germany in the 2014 World Cup championship match…

LM: “It will be important to prepare well, because in the qualifiers we were fighting up to the end and we didn’t have time to prepare ourselves. We still have to make ourselves stronger as a team to be in the running to win and be at the same level as other teams like France, Germany, Brazil or Spain. But we have a good group of players and the Argentine team is always going to be a candidate to win, it doesn’t matter how we get there. We always aim to win and we will try to go slowly but strongly to advance in the competition.”

On his love for his country, and Argentinians certain traits…

LM: “I had to leave Argentina when I was very little and there are things I miss a lot. I go back whenever I can to recharge my batteries, and someday I hope I will be able to go back and live there. There are times when you notice that the good things about your country are what give you greatest happiness and the bad things, the greatest pain.”

He then points to certain Argentine traits that he thinks he’ll always possess, like their “high level of determination.” Messi says, “do everything we can to achieve what we want,” and “that feature, which perhaps in me is a mix of ambition and commitment, has always been and always will be a part of me.”

On what he does in his spare time with his family…

LM: “Playing video games. With Thiago (his son), I have met a serious rival and found a way to recover a hobby I’d forgotten.”

On establishing a charity originization and being a UNICEF Goodwill ambassador…

LM: “Helping those most at need is a good way of giving back what I have received from society. I am very proud to be a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and to collaborate with other projects where I can put in my grain of sand so that we can live in a world that is better for everyone.”

On losing three grand finals, the 2014 World Cup, 2015 Copa América and the special 2016 Copa América Centenario, and if the losses will hamper his drive for the 2018 World Cup…

LM: “What has most defined Argentines has always been our ability to overcome difficulties that arise. We have the ability to come together and push ourselves to get out of tough moments, and that is something I value a lot in our people.”

Adding, “Over the years, I have also realized that it is not good to let your dreams become an obsession. It increases the pressure and reduces the possibility of reaching them.”

For the full cover story, head on over to PAPER.

Also, in case you missed it, ‘FIFA 18’ predicts the World Cup finalists, and here are 10 jerseys we wish were part of the official World Cup.

Words by Renz Ofiaza
Staff Writer

scribbling by day, architect by night