Blog The Smallest Boy With The Biggest Dreams

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Berikut adalah artikel atau berita tentang Harian dengan judul The Smallest Boy With The Biggest Dreams yang telah tayang di terimakasih telah menyimak. Bila ada masukan atau komplain mengenai artikel berikut silahkan hubungi email kami di [email protected], Terimakasih.

Training since childhood

Naturally, young Leo developed a passion for football himself. His two older brothers and cousins would constantly go out to play, and as soon as he was able, Leo tagged along. But the rest of the boys were much older than Leo, and were hesitant to let him join in.

His grandmother, who always went with him, insisted they allow him to play too. After watching Leo take his first football steps, she later convinced Leo’s mother to buy his first pair of cleats.

At four years old, Leo joined the Grandoli local club, where he was coached by his father. His grandmother watched him almost every day as he dutifully trained to develop his skills. When he was eight, Leo joined the talented Newell Old Boys, another Rosario-based club that he had always looked up to.

Diagnosed with an inability to grow

As his father continued to search for a way to cover the treatment, Leo was scouted by the Buenos Aires club River Plate, home of Pablo Aimar. Leo absolutely idolized the dubbed “football genius” and was ecstatic at the offer. However, the club was unwilling to cover Leo’s expenses since Argentina was currently undergoing an economic collapse. He was undeniably crushed, but it wasn’t long before another offer came in, this time from Spain.

Accepting the offer of a lifetime

While Leo didn’t want to leave his life in Rosario behind, his dream of becoming a professional football player was too important. So, in September 2000, Leo and his family uprooted their lives and flew across the Atlantic to Barcelona.

The family stayed in a hotel while Leo presented himself to the prestigious FC Barcelona Youth team. He was given his uniform and went to the changing room, where he didn’t speak a word to his new teammates. They all looked at him in disbelief of how small he was, but after he spent two minutes on the pitch, they were in disbelief of how good he was.

Coach Carles was so impressed that he offered Leo a contract on the only thing he had at hand — a paper napkin. Leo signed it, opening the door to the life he had always dreamed of.

Rising through the ranks

Behind the scenes of his success on the field was an arduous routine. Every day he practiced and every night he injected growth hormones into his legs. This was Leo’s life until he was 14 years old.

In barely a year and a half, he had already reached a level in the academy where he could join his first team. His treatment was finally over, and his body began to grow normally again, ultimately reaching 5′ 7″.

Breaking personal and global records

At 18, he signed his first contract as a senior team player for FC Barcelona. Shortly after, he made his first international appearance playing for Argentina in a match against Hungary. However, two minutes in, a player grabbed onto his shirt and Leo was sent off for using his arm to shake the player off. He sulked about the foul all the way to the dressing room, where his team later found him in tears.

Resignation, return, and philanthropy

However, he was unable to pull Argentina through the final, losing 1-0 to Germany. Even though he earned a Golden Ball, the highest FIFA award for best player, he was utterly disappointed. Leo desperately wanted to bring the cup back to Argentina, as Maradona had done in 1986.

Dubbed as “Maradona’s successor” by the legend himself, Leo continues to make his team and country proud in more ways than one. Off the pitch, he is an advocate for children’s rights, funding medical care for the less fortunate and funding youth clubs, including his old football club, Newell’s Old Boys.

The boy who was once too small to play with his cousins is now the winner of five Golden Balls, three European Golden Shoes, and is one of the top goal scorers in the world. But the modest Leo finds more joy in simply knowing that his grandmother would be proud. 

You have to fight to reach your dream. You have to sacrifice and work hard for it.