‘Football,’ is a game of people. For some, it is a spectator sport while for others it is a religion. The 90-minute sport encompasses passion, panache and thrill for everyone. Down from the touchline to the eagle-eye view, the adrenaline rush is something incomparable. Only a few sports can share the same benchmark set by the biggest sport in the world.
Behind the fame and glamour of footballers, there’s a hidden chapter of struggle and hard work. It’s no child’s play to reach the world-class level of the world’s most competitive sport. But some names like Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar have made it look so easy.
Ever wondered what was their road to struggle like? If you wish to get up close with the number of hardships your favorite footballers faced, this one is for you.
Let’s bring you a bunch of stories which are motivating as well as heart crunching at the same time.
Arguably one of the greatest ever footballers, CR7 has one of the toughest roads to glory. Away from the glamour and glitz of his life, he was just a little ‘crybaby’ from Madeira, Portugal. Most of the Ronaldo fanboys already know about the heart condition he had when he was 15. Back then, he was a poor bloke who was obsessed to be the best footballer ever. He eventually became one of the footballing gods, regardless of his modest upbringing devoid of birthday gifts. Ronaldo’s ambition is fueled by his passion for football which makes his unstoppable on the green.
Name of this short guy is well-known across the globe. Everyone calls him the ‘Little Magician’ because he pours magic on the field and he is short. Period! His small body structure makes him sneak away from the defenders and his left foot is sublime. But before the legacy was created, little Messi was dealing with growth hormone deficiency. Being poor only added more tragedy to his story until FC Barcelona saw his talent and choose to fund his treatment. After that, Leo emerged as an embodiment of greatness.
Zlatan is a lion in the jungle called ‘Football.’ He is, and always will be the most badass football player ever born. Zlatan might be the one who scored hundreds of impossible goals, but this one-man show was not born with a silver spoon. He was born in Rosengard district of Malmo which is not anywhere near for spitting out brilliant footballers. His parents split when he was 2, forcing him to steal what he desired. Long after he was stealing even bikes to reach the training grounds. 18 was the sweet age when he learned his talent and the rest is history.
Master of skills, tricks and awe-inspiring footwork, Neymar is a prodigy. He is already on a road to success for both country and as a footballer. He is often criticized for his ‘dives,’ but there is no denying Brazil’s number 10 is sheer joy to watch. His rise was so meteoric that both FC Barcelona and Real Madrid were running to get his signature when he was 20. But Neymar had an unprivileged childhood living in sheer poverty. His parents believed that they lost their light when little Neymar met an accident which left him bloodied. And now, he is the most expensive player in the world.
The Midfield- Maestro is one of the most decent football players ever lived. He is the man who gleaned the pain in the heart of the midfield of both club and country. The story of success with Real Madrid and Croatia is known to everyone. But little do they know that young Luka lived in the times of war. Modric was forced to live in an impromptu refugee camp in a hotel. His childhood was revolved with tragedy and life-threatening danger. Luka Modric eventually raised through the ranks of Tottenham and Real Madrid despite being rejected by the boyhood club Hajduk Split.
Alexis might’ve been having a harder time in Manchester United as compared to his time in Arsenal. He is a force to reckon with when he is having his day. But the little red devil had a really tough childhood. Alexis had to work as a cleaner at his school and wash cars to bring in some extra income to the family. His father was out of the picture so he was determined to improve his mother’s quality of life. If he didn’t start his footballing career, he might’ve been working in the local mine. At a tender age of 16, he got his real break with via Udinese and now he is known across the globe.
The lethal striker is a meteor between posts. He has bagged a fair share of goal no matter where he played. But the beloved Blaugrana forward had a hardship at a tender age. He used to play shoeless in the streets when he was young. His family didn’t even have enough finances to support his desire to play football. Suarez’s father left the family when he was twelve leaving him with his six siblings. He was struggling to focus on his formative days but the star was born when he joined Ajax in 2007. And his true form was shown later in Liverpool, Uruguay and Barcelona. Not to mention his biting habits.
The hyperactive and fully focused Argentine Winger is known for his crazy ‘rabona’ assists. He has a left foot which can only be overlooked if compared with the little magician, Messi’s left. His work-rate is inspiring and his finishing is drips of finesse. But the PSG stardust too had a tough childhood. Di Maria was consigned to a coal yard by his father after his dream of football was shattered by a devastating injury. Angel was playing football in the street when some reputed scouts spotted his talent. After that Di Maria emerged as an immense footballing talent who now we know of.
Many players were destined for greatness. Some are known for their unique play-style. But Ribery is all about attack. He is known to toy with the defender and sneaks inside the box whenever he can. The ‘French Gem’ was forced to grind his way to the top in his hard-boiled Chemin-Vert neighborhood. The distinctive facial scars of Ribery is the outcome of the automobile accident when he was 2. His work ethic was a little unhinged due to which he has to battle through the lower French leagues. It was Bayern Munich where he found his home. Now he is 35 and still full-steamed.
Baichung Bhutia might not be a global celebrity buy Indians loved their first gem of football. He was unlucky to be a skilled footballer when football was not famous in India. India’s most celebrated footballer was struggling for money when he was a young kid. His parents were farmers and he used to practice football all the time. It was at the age of 9 when he received a football scholarship from the Sports Authority of India. Baichung got his shot in 1992 and then he became one of the best footballers ever born in India.
Carlos Tevez - A childhood in a rough neighborhood blighted by deprivation and crime. He used to weave around syringes and shattered glass which developed his dribbling abilities.
Yaya Toure - He played football until he was 10 without boots as for him they were costly. Yaya couldn’t even ask for boots in his family of seven.
Dani Alves - Dani was sleeping in a cemented bed and helping out his father in picking melons. He also worked as a waiter or trader when possible.
Mohamed Salah - Salah had a better childhood than other mentioned players. But he used to struggle a lot with his grades as he was always playing football.
The world of a football player is full of struggle but these ones had the toughest routes. Away from the economic and social strife, this article deals with the untold stories of the famous players.
I will be back with more untold football stories. Till then, sayonara.
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