North Korea Aiming to Produce Future Lionel Messi

James MontagueFeatured ColumnistNovember 16, 2016

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North Korea are attempting to produce “super-talented players who can surpass the skills of Lionel Messi,” with World Cup glory the ultimate goal for Kim Jong-un’s Hermit Kingdom. 

Despite their lowly position of 126th in the FIFA rankings, Ri Yu-Il, the head of the country’s only football academy, is targeting eventual world domination, beginning with supremacy in Asia.    

Outlining the Pyongyang International Football School’s ambitious plans, he told Agence France-Presse (h/t ESPN FC): "We are training our students to become super-talented players who can surpass the skills of people like Lionel Messi. For now, I think we should dominate Asia and, in the near future, I hope that we will achieve global dominance."

North Korea’s talent pool will certainly need expanding if their last World Cup performance in 2010 is anything to go by, when they lost all three of their games and were on the receiving end of a 7-0 mauling at the hands of Portugal.