Junior Messias: Believe in Your Dreams

As children, we are taught to believe in fairy tales, but as we grow up, reality sinks in and we become cynical, believing that there are no Cinderellas, and that dreams don't come true. Except when they do. Every once in a while, there is a Cinderella story in football, and Milan's new signing Junior Messias may as well wear glass boots and show up in a carriage for training, because his dream just came true. After growing up playing football and dreaming in Brazil, a near death experience caused him to turn his life to God (sound familiar?) After moving to Italy, he began working to achieve his dream of playing football at the highest level. Now, at the age of 30, he will be playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world. Maybe fairy tales do still come true, if you are like Messias and believe in your dreams.


Believe

When fans heard that Milan were signing a virtually unknown player as a reinforcement after being linked with so many world class players, there was a lot of outrage. But I think Carlo Pelegatti said it best: "Bernardo Silva has been offered to Milan. But do you think Milan is going to look for someone who costs €70 million and earns €8 million in salary? They could have taken Isco or James Rodriguez. They preferred to go and get a quality player, according to them, who is hungry" (via Tuttoconvocati.) Junior Messias was playing in Serie D just three years ago, after having worked as an appliance delivery man and other hard labor jobs to make ends meet and support his family. He was literally and metaphorically hungry.


Not exactly the dream he wished for

Junior Walter Messias was born and raised in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, but moved to Turin at the age of 20 at the urging of his brother, in search of his footballing dream. To pay the bills, he began working in construction, cleaning and restoring bricks from demolished buildings for 20 cents per brick. Later, he began working as a bricklayer, and eventually a delivery driver, including delivering large household appliances. Football was no longer the plan, though. He arrived being considered a "fuoriquota," someone whose time was already up. He didn't mind working hard, he comes from a country where you work from 5 in the morning to 8 at night every day, he is a very hard worker.

Messias was simply trying to support his wife and son back in Brazil, but he began playing in a local Peruvian team, Sport Warique in the UISP league for fun. He worked his day job and continued to play only for the love of football, thinking he had missed his chance to become a professional. This was where his natural talent was discovered by Ezio Rossi, a former player who had played for teams like Torino, Verona, and Lecce during his career. Now he was coaching, and was anxious to coach Messias.


Playing for Chieri in Serie D

The problem was that Messias struggled to get the documentation he needed in order to register and play. When Rossi was appointed to manage Eccelenza (Italian fifth division) side Casale in 2015, he again contacted the Brazilian, and miraculously, his paperwork came through at the same time. He had one offer to play for Fossano, but €700 per month would not make ends meet, so Rossi was able to convince Casale's management to give the player a contract of €1500 per month so that Messias could just play football and not have to worry about money. Casale were promoted to Serie D after one season, with the Brazilian as their top scorer with 21 goals. He then moved to Chieri, where he was scouted by Serie C side Pro Vercelli. They tried to sign him, but there was a passport issue, so he ended up instead going to back to Serie D to play for Gozzano.


He almost played for the legendary Pro Vercelli

Messias finally made it to Serie C when Gozzano achieved promotion in 2018 after his first season with them. In January of 2019, he was sold to Serie B side Crotone. He scored six goals for the Rossoblu that year, helping them achieve promotion to Serie A. He admits that he was blessed to have signed for Crotone ahead of the pandemic, otherwise, he would have never made it to top flight football, and he would probably have nothing, like so many others. But he did make it, and last season he scored nine goals and had four assists for Gli Squali, despite the team being relegated back to Serie B.


Sweating his way to promotion in Serie C with Gozzano

Messias' rise from Serie D to Serie A in just three years can be seen as a fairy tale, but he attributes the miracles in his life to his belief in God. Unlike Kaká, he was not born into a life of comfort. However, like the legend, he had a near death experience that changed his perspective. He was driving on an obscure dirt road in Brazil after drinking very heavily, and crashed his car into a muddy field. He believes that it was God that helped someone to find him and save him from that field. After this experience, he stopped drinking and became devoutly religious. He was even considering quitting football to be a preacher, but he asked for a sign from God, and now he has signed with Milan. 

Marco Gaburro, who managed Messias at Gozzano, said that at first he used him as more of an engine in the midfield, but when he gave him more space to attack, he exploded. Where he did the best for the club was as a mezzala. For Pioli, he could also play on the wing or as an attacking midfielder, another player with versatility to add to Milan's tactical flexibility this season.


The number 30 credits a higher power for the miracles in his life

Last season at Crotone, he was coached briefly by Serse Cosmi, who said, "He is good at dead balls, he has drive, he sees the goal, he inserts himself, he has a good shot, he steals, he is strong. He is a classic left-footed Brazilian, at the highest level technically." He also believes that Messias is ready for both Milan and the Champions League. Certainly, last season in Serie A, he was second only to Rodrigo De Paul in dribbles completed, with 105 in all, according to OptaPaolo. His performances for the Rossoblu last season, as well as all of the goals and assists in 36 appearances were clearly enough to impress Maldini and Massara.


Starstruck by one of his idols last October, Messias will now see Dida daily in training

Messias said in an article for Chroniche Di Spogliatoio in March that he first realized that he was a real footballer when he stepped into the meeting to study videos of Milan before training ahead of his first Crotone match against the Rossoneri. He said, "We start studying them and my mind begins to realize. You dream of the successes, you dream of the Brazilians, it is the team that I have admired since I was a child. Cafu, Kaká, Serginho, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho. They made history." Now it is his turn to make history, even if he may not achieve the same footballing status as those legends. There is even a rumor starting that Messi chose the number 30 when he moved to PSG as an homage to Messias (you heard it here first.)


The fairy tale comes true

After signing for Milan, he sat down to be interviewed and said, "When I arrived in Italy, I decided to work hard, on the pitch and during the day. I had a dream: I thought I wouldn't make it, but I sweat, with humility. From Eccelenza to the promotions in Serie B and A, I still remembered dribbling on the street in Ipatinga, and now I am here, in one of the most important clubs in the world. No matter how rational you may be, there will always be a fairy tale you will end up believing in. I am a Rossoneri. I am a Milan player."


His dream came true later, but it did come true

Our newest Milan player may have emerged from the ashes of a life of poverty and hard labor to arrive on the pitches of legendary stadiums like the San Siro and the magic of Champions League nights, but he is still very humble. He may not wear "I belong to Jesus" shirts like Kakà, but rather he will quietly acknowledge his own faith and always acknowledge his blessings. Most of all, he encourages others to keep dreaming. "Even if everything seems far away, if you are convinced of your possibilities, you need to fight to the last centimeter and continue to pursue your dreams, which sooner or later will come true."


This post inspired by the music of Lily James' "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes"


Junior Messias: Believe in Your Dreams Junior Messias: Believe in Your Dreams Reviewed by Elaine on 3:20 AM Rating: 5
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