Jamie Vardy, Santiago Munez, and now Junior Messias. The footballing embodiments of 'started from the bottom, now I'm here'.
Only those paying close attention to the Serie A would know the story of Messias, but following his Champions League winner against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday, his name is going to reach the ears of fans far and wide.
The rise of Junior Messias 🤩
𝟮𝟬𝟭𝟳: Delivery driver and 🇮🇹 Serie D player
𝗦𝘂𝗺𝗺𝗲𝗿 𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟭:➡️Transfers to AC Milan
𝟮𝟰 𝗡𝗼𝘃 𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟭: Scores the winner away vs. Atletico Madrid in the #UCL
Mind-blowing 🤯 pic.twitter.com/rLrHDlbniN
— LiveScore (@livescore) November 25, 2021
Despite his rags to riches story, his early footballing career was rather successful as he played youth football for Brazilian powerhouses Cruzeiro.
However, the years that followed did not initially bear fruit, and the young footballer seemed destined to take his place with the vast majority of players who don’t make it.
‘Making it’ in the most popular sport in the world is rare, but if you’re young with no major commitments and supportive parent, it does make it easier.
But Junior didn’t have these luxuries and his number one priority was providing for his wife and two children.
His rise is a testament to the importance of loving the game. Junior’s love for the game was quite clearly insatiable, even after failing in Brazil and making the decision to follow his brother to Turin.
It was this love for the game that brought him to play for a local team that catered for the Peruvian community. Of course, football at this time was just a hobby for him, while his income came from job as a delivery man.
Enter Ezio Rossi. Rossi is a former Serie A player who togged out in the likes of Turin and Verona in the 80s and 90s.
He spots Messias playing in an amateur match and persuades him to come and play for Casale and Messias helps guide them to Serie D.
Serie D is the top level of non-professional football in Italy, and ranks one below the Serie C which is the third tier of Italian pro-football.
Serie D is also divided into nine different leagues based on region.
Messias’ career was now beginning to bear fruit, but playing in Serie A or even Serie B was still something of a far-fetched dream.
Nevertheless, his love for the game drove him on and he signed for Chieri and helped them win the Coppa Italia Serie D in 2017.
His performances were eye-catching and were enough to garner interest from Serie B side Pro Vercelli, but due to passport issues Messia was unable to sign for them.
In the meantime he togged out for Gozzano and lead them to the Group A Serie D title and promotion to Serie C in 2018.
He spent two seasons with Gozzano before Crotone in Sera B came calling. He made his Serie B debut with them in 2019, and scored his first goal for Crotone in December of the same year.
The Brazilian had officially defied the odds and had made it in professional football all on his own. Had he retired there and then his story would still be one worth telling.
𝟮-𝟬 𝗖𝗥𝗢𝗧𝗢𝗡𝗘!!! ⚽️
It's a birthday goal for Junior Messias, who puts the home side in control with a low finish 🎂👏
Watch live Serie A action on the LiveScore app, 𝗙𝗥𝗘𝗘 𝗢𝗙 𝗖𝗛𝗔𝗥𝗚𝗘 😁🇮🇹
(Available in 🇬🇧 and 🇮🇪 only)#SerieA #CrotoneVerona #LiveScore pic.twitter.com/kEZnNBgNym
— LiveScore (@livescore) May 13, 2021
But the best and most amazing moments were yet to come. The first of these moments was his loan move to the giants of Italian football AC Milan earlier this year.
It was only last month on October 4th when he made his Serie A debut, coming on as a substitute in a 3-2 win over Atalanta.
And this week came the climax to his real-life movie. In a must win Champions League game against Atletico, he pops up in the 87th minute to score the winning goal.
Per concludere la serata nel modo migliore mi godo il goal di #Messias con il commento della coppia #Piccinini - #Ambrosini e con la canzone di Rocky a suggellare il momento.#AtleticoMilan pic.twitter.com/cTi9JMyQ8c
— ɪʟ ᴍɪʟᴀɴɪsᴛᴀ sᴀᴛɪʀɪᴄᴏ (@IlSatirico) November 25, 2021
With more eyes on him now, it will be fascinating to see where his journey takes him. Will Wednesday’s goal be his Everest, or will there be more movie script moments?
Given the obstacles he has overcome thus far, a call up to the Brazilian national side may not be as far-fetched as it seems.
One thing that is certain is that every football fan, everyone who loves the beautiful game, will be rooting for the man from Belo Horizonte.