Tonight I watched the quarter final of the UEFA European Champions League to see my favorite football (soccer) team FC Barcelona play Arsenal. I have written two prior blog posts on the way FC Barcelona goes about professional training and development of players, plays football and approaches playing and winning the game.
Tonight's match saw another flawless team performance from FC Barcelona and the best individual performance by a player in any code of football that I have ever seen, in FC Barcelona's 4-1 demolition of Arsenal in the quarter final of the EUFA Champions League. What was truly remarkable and I recommend readers track down replays of this match if you missed it, is that Lionel Messi scored all four goals for FC Barcelona against Arsenal a top four English Championship team.
Messi is already being hailed as the greatest of all time and the new Maradona...even by the great man himself.
At the tender age of 22, he clearly has an opportunity to set new records for goal scoring and rewrite the soccer history books. What is really interesting about both FC Barcelona and Messi is that he was referred to Barcelona while playing in Argentina at the tender age of 11 and moved to Spain with his family, where FC Barcelona paid for his treatment for a growth hormone deficiency and began his professional development.
Messi started playing football at age five in a team coached by his father. Like many great athletes and performers, Messi was an outstanding player in his youth and has already achieved numerous top level awards and championships which you can read about here.
As with all great athletes, performers, artists and professionals in almost any field, including marketing and sales, talent is overrated and it takes 10 years of playing at the top level or 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to achieve greatness. Elite performance in fact has little to do with talent and everything to do with emotional commitment, ability to sustain hard-work and many hours of daily practice, coaching and feedback from experts, a desire to be the best you can be and to constantly seek to raise the bar in individual performance.
Tonight we saw absolute mastery from FC Barcelona and a stunning individual performance by Messi, who did not wait for the ball to be passed to him in front of goal, but created numerous opportunities from mid-field and through pin-point passing, team-work and brilliant ball-control, shredded the Arsenal defence.
It is hard to imagine any team beating Barcelona in the UEFA Championship or La Liga again in 2010. An experience to be savoured and remembered. Bravo!