6 Little-Known Facts About Barcelona's Lionel Messi

Jason PettigroveContributor IApril 30, 2014

6 Little-Known Facts About Barcelona's Lionel Messi

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    Is there anything we don't know about Lionel Messi?
    Is there anything we don't know about Lionel Messi?USA TODAY Sports

    Lionel Messi has had so much written about him over the years that you wonder if there is anything left to uncover, or some little details that may have been overlooked.

    Perhaps there are the odd few facts that are not known to the masses.

    Over the next six slides, B/R attempt to uncover something that you might not have previously known, either personally or professionally, about the world's greatest footballer.

    Let's take a look...

His Favorite Food Is Milanesa Napolitana

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    There would appear to be one particular food that Lionel Messi has enjoyed throughout his life: Milanesa Napolitana. 

    A favourite in Argentina, the dish is made with a variety of ingredients such as ham, salt, oregano, fried beef, chopped tomatoes, onions, cheese and sugar.

    In Luca Caoili's book "Messi," Lionel's mother Celia describes how she cooks her son's favourite dish and notes:

    Lionel has simple gastronomic tastes: schnitzel, but not made with ham or horsemeat; chicken with a sauce made of pepper, onions, tomatoes and oregano. He doesn't care much for elaborate dishes.

    Hungry yet?!

Could Have Played for Spain

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    We could have seen Lionel Messi play alongside Andres Iniesta at national level.
    We could have seen Lionel Messi play alongside Andres Iniesta at national level.David Ramos/Getty Images

    Lionel Messi is heading for Brazil this summer looking to spearhead Argentina's charge to glory in the backyard of their fiercest rivals.

    Popular opinion would suggest that if the albiceleste are able to emerge victorious in the tournament that Messi will cement his place in history as the best footballer to have ever played the game.

    However, things could've been much different.

    In Spain since the age of 13, Messi has dual nationality and qualified to play for Spain. Per Biography Online, he was asked to play for the Spanish U20 side in 2004 but turned down the opportunity and instead turned out a year later and led Argentina to victory in the FIFA Youth Championship.  

    Graham Hunter noted in his book "Barca - The making of the greatest team in the world" via Nicky Salapu of The Guardian:

    Just imagine it for a second – Messi up front for this Spain team. He'd have been more appreciated, he'd have won more trophies, he'd have been playing with club-mates and friends and he'd have been far from the first Argentinian to jump ship to La Roja.

    It was never an option however, as Messi himself said:

    I would have never played for Spain. I'm Argentinian and no one and nothing can change what I feel for the Argentinian colours.

Sent off After 44 Seconds of His Argentina Senior Debut

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    August 2005, in the 65th minute of a match against Hungary, an 18-year-old Lionel Messi replaced Lisandro Lopez to make his debut at senior level for the Argentinian national side.

    Just 44 seconds later his match was over. Sent off for a flailing arm in the direction of Hungary's Vilmos Vanczak.

    Nicky Salapu of The Guardian notes:

    Lionel Messi is sitting in the corner of the Argentina dressing room in the Ferenc Puskas Stadium. His head is in his hands, tears are in his eyes. It is not supposed to end like this.

    Video of the incident (above) showed the youngster was only trying to escape the shirt tugging of his opponent and the referee Markus Merk was all too ready to brandish the red card.

    Not the way you imagine Messi expected his debut to pan out.

His Real Name Is Luis

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    Luis Messi. Doesn't seem right.
    Luis Messi. Doesn't seem right.Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    Known all around the world simply as Lionel Messi, the player was actually born into this world on June 24, 1987 in Rosario, Argentina as Luis Lionel Andres Messi, per Biography.com.

    It's unclear why the player, or indeed his parents, chose for him to be known as Lionel, so various accounts—including Sam Kelly's at ESPN—that he was named after American crooner Lionel Richie are therefore incorrect.

His Heritage Is Italian

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    Lionel Messi's lineage on his father's side is from Italy.
    Lionel Messi's lineage on his father's side is from Italy.David Ramos/Getty Images

    Born and raised in Argentina. Now holds dual nationality as a naturalised Spaniard. But Lionel Messi's family heritage actually belongs in Italy.

    Recanati is a town in the Province of Macerata in the east of the country and it is here where the paternal ancestors of Barcelona's No. 1 son have their origins, according to the town's Wikipedia page.

    Rajath Kumar of Forza Italian Football actually suggests it is Ancona where the Messi family were based, with ancestor Angelo Messi emigrating to Argentina in 1883. 

    Imagine that. Messi and Andrea Pirlo side by side. Football heaven.

He Is Related to Bojan Krkic

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    Lionel Messi's and Bojan Krkic's great-grandfathers were brothers.
    Lionel Messi's and Bojan Krkic's great-grandfathers were brothers.Victor R. Caivano

    Believe it or not, Lionel Messi and ex-Barcelona star Bojan Krkic are distant cousins.

    Per Stefan Coerts of Goal.com, an investigation by Diari Segre turned up the astonishing information that Ramon Perez Llobera, Messi's great-grandfather born in 1859, was the brother of Goncal, who was born nine years afterwards and who is Bojan's great-grandfather.

    Coerts goes on to say:

    The families of both players share the surname Perez, stemming from ancestors who moved from Teruel to Poal in the 18th century.

    Ramo's granddaughter Rosa Maria Perez Mateu eventually emigrated to Argentina, where she married Eusebio Messi Baro. Their son is the father of the current Barcelona ace.

    Small world.