A Beautiful Game by Tom Watt is a collection of interviews with the world’s leading players.
This is Messi reminiscing about how he first fell in love ……with the game.
“There was green around the house but no garden to play football in. There was an abandoned military base nearby which had some pitches and sometimes we’d sneak in for a game through a gap in the fence. But usually, playing football meant playing in the streets. In those days the road was unpaved, just dried earth. It wasn’t the best of neighbourhoods but it was the kind of neighbourhood where everybody knew everybody, so my mum wasn’t worried about me.
I started playing when I was five. At first, I wasn’t always allowed to play with the bigger boys. My older brothers didn’t want me to join in – not because I was small, they said it was because they were playing against older boys. The other boys wouldn’t be able to get the ball off me – my brothers were worried something bad might happen to me if the other boys got angry. ”
This is Gilberto Silva..
“Still, in our village, we were surrounded by friends and family. It was lovely: open and flat. We weren’t very comfortably off but I had everything else. We played football all the time when we were boys. There were other villages nearby that had been built by the sugar cane factory too; and in every village there was some kind of a pitch. Not covered in grass, maybe, but somewhere to play football. We were always barefoot: if we wore our shoes to play football, we’d have no shoes to go to school in! ”