The following is part fact, mostly fiction. Try to guess which is which.
1. The Christening: Jorge Horácio Messi, Lionel’s father and factory steel worker, hears this song on the way home to find only to find out his wife, Celia María Cuccittini, is pregnant. Shot of Maradona waking up in middle of a midday nap, screaming.
2. The Machine of ’87: A young Lionel Messi says he will destroy opposition in a game for Newell’s Old Boys. Child on other team cries at the end of the game. Messi consoles him, alone, while his teammates celebrate.
3. Growth Hormone Deficiency: Messi sits in front a kind doctor who kindly explains a complex diagnosis. Shot of a River Plate executive shaking their head with a medical bill in his hand. Shot of Messi’s parents weeping while Messi juggles a ball in the waiting room.
4. The Trial: Carles Rexach, sporting director of Barcelona, nervously and excitedly writes a contract on a napkin for Messi to sign. He constantly looks around him in a nervous panic.
5. La Masia: A young Messi is nervously introduced to two first team players for Barca one day at the academy, Xavi and Iniesta.
6. Promotions: Montage of Messi suiting up for Juvenil B, Juvenil A, the Barcelona C team, and finally the Barcelona B team, in 2003-04.
7. Debut: Shot of Rijkaard pointing to Messi on the bench against Espanyol, October 16th 2004. Messi stands up. Deco comes off, winking at Messi.
8. The Choice: Messi is offered a chance to play for the Spanish national U20 side. He glances at his wall in La Masia dorm, with a photo of Maradona’s hand of god goal. Next shot is him scoring against Paraguay for Argentina’s U20s in June 2004.
9. 2014: Messi signs a new contract with Barcelona keeping him until June 2014. Rijkaard smiles widely, then frowns, knowing Messi will outlast him there.
10. Udinese: Messi gets a standing ovation from the Camp Nou as he walks off the pitch in a Champions League match against Udinese on September 27th 2005.
11. Injuries: Shot of Messi tearing his thigh muscle against Chelsea, followed by Messi breaking his metatarsal, in 2006. Really nauseating sound effects added.
12. World Cup: Shots of Messi sitting on the bench, getting up. Sitting on the bench, getting up, with Argentina in Germany. Argentina lose after Messi’s extra time goal against Mexico is ruled offside. The team walk around the pitch, dejected. Messi starts ball-juggling on the touchline.
13. Rosario: Messi sneaks away from a hotel while back in Argentina to drive from Buenos Aires to Rosario. Arrives to have a quiet dinner with his family.
14. Hat-trick: Messi scores three goals against Real Madrid, scoring three equalizers for a 10-man Barcelona.
15. Goal of the New Century: Messi scores this goal in the Copa Del Rey semifinal against Getafe:
16. Messidona: Against Espanyol, Messi does this:
17. Copa America: Rapid fire cut of all of Messi’s assists from the 2007 tournament. It finishes with the team walking around, dejected after losing to Brazil. Messi starts ball-juggling on the touchline.
18. Charity: Messi cuts the ribbon on the Leo Messi foundation, set up for education and health care for disadvantaged kids. A reporter in the back row of the official presser nods off, slumps out of his chair.
19. Hype: Shot of a man reading a copy of Marca at a training ground bleacher: the front cover shows a poll of readers voting him the best player in the world. The man farts. Camera pans to Messi, calmly training alone on the pitch.
20. Pep: An unfamiliar-looking Leo Messi sits down with Barcelona’s newest coach, Pep Guardiola. He is angry, assertive. He is passionately striving to play for Argentina in the 2008 Olympic games in China. A bemused Pep acquiesces.
21. Number 10: Ronaldinho comes by to tell Messi he’s leaving the club to play for Milan. Messi shakes his hand and hugs him. Messi then takes off his shirt and throws it toward the laundry basket. It misses and goes into the garbage.
22. 5000 Messi scores Barcelona’s 5000th league goal against Racing Santander. Walks off the field next to the ghostly figures of Johan Cruyff, Ladislao Kubala. Cruyff trips and falls on Kubala.
23. Ronaldo: Messi, annoyed with media stories about a rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo, calls him on the telephone. They decided to coordinate their media quotes to stoke this perceived rivalry as long as possible. From 2009 on in, they celebrate birthdays together and start a long-running chess game by snail mail.
24. Headers: Messi reads a long entry on a Barnsley FC fan forum from user MiketheTyke569 which says Messi won’t be a complete player until he heads the ball like a traditional centre-forward. Decides to head in Barcelona’s second goal against Manchester United and wins the European Cup, 2009.
25. Lit: Messi has too much fun on top of the team bus.
26. Super Cup Messi falls asleep for a total of two minutes and 32 seconds in Super Cup match against Shakhtar Donetsk.
27. False 9: Pep Guardiola takes Messi aside and brings out a Texas intruments calculator and a wall-sized whiteboard to explain his new false nine role. Messi insists the word “false” appear on the back of his shirt with a hyphen in front of the “9.” Guardiola refuses.
28. €250 million: Messi signs a new contract with Barcelona. Messi’s agent insists on a €250 million buyout clause. Everyone in the room laughs for ten minutes straight. Immediately after, Messi’s agent puts in several long-distance cell phone calls to Qatar.
29. Zlatan: Ibrahimovic and Messi meet for the first time in August, 2009. They instantly become best friends. Messi comes in one day wearing a trench coat. He is 12 feet tall. After making several strained jokes about growth hormones, he opens the trench coat to reveal a naked Zlatan.
30. Club World Cup: Scores this winner against Estudiantes by essentially launching his torso at a cross:
31. Dr. Sam Beckett: Messi convinces Pedro that Quantum Leap is based on a true story and that Scott Bakula’s character has been inhabiting Messi’s body from the age of 9. Messi works very hard to maintain the ruse and Pedro still believes it to this day.
32. Hat-tricks: Messi discovers scoring hat-tricks in football is really easy because the net is so big. Scores one against Tenerife, then later against Valencia and again against Real Zaragoza.
33. Arsenal: Messi scores four goals against Arsenal in the quarterfinal second leg match of the 2009-10 Champions League. Says later he would have scored 8 but didn’t want to offend Cesc Fabgregas and threaten any future transfer negotations.
34. Goodwill Ambassador: Messi becomes the goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. Officials realize something has gone wrong when Messi begins sending edicts to the security council calling for a global wealth-sharing scheme that would end child poverty and global warming at the same time. Messi is told that his role is mostly ceremonial. Messi juggles the ball on the floor of the UN for 8 hours in protest.
35. Rich: France Football ranks Messi as one of the world’s wealthiest footballers with £29.6 million from all earnings. FF fails to report that Messi uses most of the money to fund terrible, experimental theatre productions in mid-sized cities in the US “for fun.”
36. Rivaldo: Messi overtakes Rivaldo as the player to score the most goals in the Champions League in the same game. First sends an email to congratulate him and to say he was always an inspiration. Later after a night out he sends an email with no subject line with a Youtube video of Nelson saying “ha ha” for ten hours.
37. World Cup II: Maradona and Messi are roommates in South Africa. Messi notes there is no Gideon bible in the bedside table drawer so he leaves one himself from the pile he carries around with him.
38. Ibra leaves Barca: Ibrahimovic goes on loan to Milan for the 2010-11 season. Messi is devastated. Tells inner circle he’s contemplating quitting football. Locks himself in his room for 72 hours, heard weeping for hours. Emerges “forever changed,” according to friends.
39. Ankle: Messi appears to suffer a critical injury to his ankle after a nasty tackle from Atletico’s Tomáš Ujfaluši. Instant rumours spread that Messi will be out for 6 months. Messi takes a few deep breaths in doctor’s office, grabs his ankle, and twists it back into place before the doctor can make his MRI scan. The test showed a sprain.
40. Ballon D’Or: Messi wins the 2010 Ballon D’Or award. He mails it to Cristiano Ronaldo, as he has done with every subsequent award win.
41. Crime-fighter: Messi solves a murder mystery in Barcelona in his spare time. Quotes extensively from a Murder She Wrote episode while conducting investigation. No one caught the references as the show was not popular in Spain.
42. Drought: Messi doesn’t score for a month in March and April 2011 after reading a Jonathan Wilson post and coming to the conclusion goals are overrated. Pep finds out and is furious, forces Messi to watch the best 100 goals of the Premier League on DVD.
43. Manchester United: Sir Alex Ferguson writes Messi a polite letter asking him not to score against them in the Champions League final. Messi tries to comply but forgets in the 54th minute. At half time, Rooney and Messi have a long discussion about the influence of the Frankfurt school on Fredric Jameson.
44. Vacation: Messi vacations at home in Rosario. People in his home town ask him what he’s been up to for the last ten years, and repeat this joke until Messi finally agrees to fund new Newell’s Old Boys facilities.
45. Copa America II: Went to the Copa America in Argentina. Knackered. Only managed three assists.
46. Penalties: Messi scores a brace of penalties against Milan in the Champions League quarterfinals, making him the the player to score the most goals in a single Champions League season. Messi however discounts the record as he counts penalties as “loser goals.”
47. Canada: Messi says he’s never been to Canada, nor will he ever go to Canada. In fact, Messi hates Canada.
48. Pep leaves Barca: Messi finds out by text message. Texts back, “kewl cya.” Later sends enormous fruit basket with a card that read, “I was a false nine, but you were always true to me. Leo.”
49. Messi is really good: He’s the best. The best in the world. Maradona Shmaradona. Go to helle, Pele. He scores loads of goals and stuff and is a really nice guy.
49. Archie Stark: Millions of Americans mark the bittersweet moment when Lionel Messi breaks the long-standing record of Bethlehem Steel power house Archie Stark (1924-25 season) by scoring more than 70 goals in a first division season. Network television cancels regular programming for an entire day of Stark-related programming. President Obama makes a special statement noting an “end of major era in global sports history.”
50. Gerd Mueller: Messi breaks Gerd Mueller’s record for most goals scored in a calendar year. Many people send in obscure stats from faraway leagues. Meanwhile, somewhere billions of light years away a quasar pulses in the dark, silent cold of space.
51. Kobe Bryant Messi and Kobe Bryant try to impress a small boy on an airplane for some reason. The boy just wants some ice cream.
52. Contract Extension: Messi extends his contract to June 2018. As with all Messi’s contracts, it’s written out on a napkin.
52. Facewash: Messi stars in a facewash advert in Japan. At first the crew thinks it would be funny to tell Messi it’s for whipped cream, and to encourage him to eat it. Messi does to be polite, then realizes what’s happening and storms out. The commercial is stitched together from four minutes of footage.
53. Ballon D’Or: Messi wins the Ballon D’or again. Does away with the pesky mailing business and simply hands it to Ronaldo at the ceremony. Ballon D’Or co-host Kay Murray alerts Messi to this cool Canadian soccer blog she’s been reading. Messi adds it to his RSS feed for a day and then quickly deletes it.
54. Slideshow: This article is still on the internet. Messi reads it one day and saves it to Instapaper.
55. MLS: After winning the World Cup in Brazil 2014, soccer becomes wildly popular in the US. Messi astonishes the world and comes to play for the Portland Timbers, breaking his contract with Barcelona. There are mass shirt burnings in Barcelona. Messi scores 150 goals in the 2015 season. Almost every major European star puts in transfers to MLS, often at 1/10th to 1/15th of their original salaries.
56. President: For some reason no one really takes the time to look into, Messi never retires from football, nor does he ever age. Nonetheless, he is elected president of the United States after congress and the senate vote to amend the constitution to allow foreign born citizens to run for high office. The remove term limits, too. Messi is president for 24 years, fixes all the problems, wins 14 MLS cups with the Timbers, then the Columbus Crew.
57. Immortality: Messi lives forever. He witnesses the day when the sun rapidly burns through its fuel, causing the temperature on earth to exceed boiling point and evaporate the oceans. He waits another 5 to 7 billion years for the sun to expend its core hydrogen and transform into a red giant, roasting the surface of the plant in ionized plasma, and eventually enveloping all that remains. Then Messi picks up a rock and begins juggling it while floating through the interminable expansion of space, forever.
58. A Blog Post: A writer is in an office busily trying to think of a solid Messi post to run on ahead of the long weekend. He decides to do a homage to 32 Short Films about Glenn Gould. He regrets using the number of Champions League goals Messi has scored as a launch pad. He runs out of fun true things to write so he maniacally comes up with half-baked jokes. It totally works. He is the first digital writer to receive a Pulitzer Prize.