From childhood, after crawling, acclaimed soccer figures felt an attraction to the ball. That ball that little by little they kicked until skill allowed them to score a hundred goals, win important titles and be called legends.
Her little legs did not disappoint. Thanks to the training and discipline instilled in them, Pelé, Maradona, Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo -considered the most important according to specialized media- have left a clear legacy.
What did the great football figures look like when they were children?
The so-called ‘King of Soccer’ began his promising path supported by his father, João Ramos do Nascimento, who received applause for his talent in the mid-20th century. He wanted to cultivate in his pupil the ‘jogo bonito’ (beautiful game). And what is necessary.
Little Edson Arantes do Nascimento, with a characteristic smile, followed in his footsteps. He fell in love with the ball, despite the fact that he initially had to play with one made of old rags, since they had no money for more.
His friends nicknamed him Bilé, like a goalkeeper from those years, but over time he became Pelé.
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That boy whose uniform could be too big became the most acclaimed boy in his country and the world, just like He promised his father when he saw him cry over Brazil’s defeat in the 1950 World Cup.
I peeled when I was a child. He was so humble that no one even suspected that his passion would move the world of football, a sport that unites the world and is sportingly healthy. Thank you Claudio Iturri Portugal for the photo pic.twitter.com/SDZ78KoadJ
– Jesus Jimenez (@centrumnews2021) December 30, 2022
Of the four World Cups in which they participated, he won three with his team. He is the youngest player in history to play in a World Cup. Although there is no official number of his goals, more than 1,280 are estimated for him throughout his career.
«Edson is going to die, Pelé is not, Pelé is immortal,» he once said to emphasize his legacy.
The Argentine Diego Armando Maradona, like Pelé, may be immortal in sporting terms. Like the Brazilian, he was chosen the best athlete of the 20th century after a controversial election in which there was no agreement and Fifa gave the prize to both.
His childhood was marked by an obsession with soccer. In a humble house that flooded when it rained and in which there was no drinking water, he grew up longing for his feet to allow him to face poverty.
“The first childhood image that comes to mind is when my mom would pick me up to go to school and I would hide in the corn. And then playing ball on a dirt street, with a lot of dirt, ”she recalled, in statements quoted by the local media outlet ‘Infobae’.
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At the age of 15, he made his debut in a match against the Talleres de Córdoba team. That game he played with the only corduroy pants he had, regardless of the taunts of his rivals. «They looked at my pants, they waited for this I had the wrong closet, what a closet I wouldn’t even use a closet!»expressed in a chat with the platform ‘AFAPlay’.
617 goals, a World Cup (Mexico 1986), dozens of distinctions and the love for his native country make up part of his harvest.
Cristiano Ronaldo (1985)
«If God’s will is for this child to be born, so be it», Dolores dos Santos Aveiro, when the doctor denies that he aborted the baby who, decades later, will have his name on the lips of thousands of fans: Cristiano Ronaldo.
The youngest of four brothers was no stranger to harsh poverty. His father, with mental problems and addicted to alcohol, did little for the family to overcome difficulties, so everything was left in the hands of the cook Dolores.
“I really don’t know my father 100 percent. He was a drunk person. I never spoke to him, like a normal conversation. It was difficult ”, he recounted in an interview for the journalist Piers Morgan from ‘ITV’.
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Soccer was his escape. With his childish curly hair, he immersed himself in the courts of his native Portugal. «If he had not dedicated himself to soccer, he probably would have fallen into drugs,» he said.
The five-time winner of the Fifa Ballon d’Or has been one of the greatest after passing through important clubs. CR7 has played for Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus, among others, with more than 800 goals at his feet.
Lionel Messi (1897)
Messi is proud that «nothing was missing» at home because his father, a worker in a steel factory in Argentina, worked hard.
“I worked overtime and worked more. But I’ve also had friends who lived in a villa, who didn’t have enough to eat, they didn’t have electricity, they didn’t have water. I also experienced it up close”, he said in an interview with the newspaper ‘Olé’.
He found his passion for soccer when he was playing with his older brothers. Mrs. Celia Olivera, the Argentine’s grandmother, was in charge of encouraging him and even fought with the coach of a children’s team to let him join the squad.
“I was one of the smallest and therefore there were no categories for me yet, but one of them was missing a player. My grandmother told the coach to let me play, to which the coach reacted: ‘How can we? That’s too small, it can’t’. Despite this, my grandmother still insisted on ‘let him play, let him play,’” she recalled.
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Grandma’s intuition did not fail, as the children’s team Newell’s Old Boys signed him.
The nickname ‘The flea’ was portrayed at the time the short height he reached compared to his peers, so much so that his family and coaches wondered why he did not grow; the answer almost cut short Messi’s dream.
He was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency at the age of ten, for which he required expensive treatments of $900 per month. His humble family could not afford the injections, but without imagining it, a bigger door opened for them: Barcelona offered to pay him everything on the condition that he sign a contract to start his professional career.
More than 800 goals, a World Cup, seven times winner of the Ballon d’Or and six times of the Golden Boot, he stands as another of the foot ball figures.
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SEBASTIAN GARCIA C.