Thanks to Lionel Messi, all football fans know, at least by name, the city ​​of Rosario. Everyone knows the world’s most famous number 10 was born in this province of Santa Fé, in northeast Argentina.
Rosario, however, did not wait for Messi to exist: with nearly two million inhabitants, it is the third most populous city in Argentina, behind Buenos Aires and Cordoba. A river port, perched on the imposing Parana, Rosario is also an important nerve centre in the country's economy.
Historically speaking, the city of Rosario has also played a key role in the ideology of the Cuban revolution since it saw the birth of Ernesto Guevara in 1928. 59 years after "Che", another leader, of a very different kind, is born in Rosario.
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The origin of the legend

On June 24, 1987, a certain Lionel Messi was born in the southern suburbs of Rosario, in a small house which, years later, will become a place of worship. Back then the young "Leo" walked the alleys of his city, just a kid like any other. Extremely shy, never expressing himself better than when he had a ball stuck to his feet.
Very quickly, with his talent being so obvious the little prodigy puts on the jersey of the Newell’s Old Boys youngsters team, one of the two big clubs in town along with Rosario Central. Despite his small size, the one nicknamed "La Pulga" (the flea) ridicules opponents much stronger and older than him. Messi's gift is such that he is sometimes brought on at half time to strengthen the numbers in Newell’s professional team matches.

Rosario

Image credit: Eurosport

Such a phenomenon, of course, could not be ignored. At the age of 13, young Lionel Messi packs his bags and leaves Rosario, heading for Barcelona and its famous training center. Unlike Diego Maradona, the other Argentinian football idol who started with the pros in his country (at Argentinos Juniors and Boca Junior) before joining Barça, Messi will not have had time to tread the lawns of the Argentine first division. He has nevertheless made his mark in the history of his city.

A giant fresco in honour of a local hero

Leo's prowess, with Barça or the national team, will quickly return to eyes and ears of Rosario. The city prides itself on having nurtured such a genius and, in no time, Messi's birthplace has since become an obligatory place for football fans to visit. Today, a tourist route takes visitors through all the places and habits of the idols’ youth, including in particular the Abanderado Grandoli club, where Leo, encouraged by his grandmother, first began dribbling.
In his district of Bajada visitors will find a huge fresco painted to celebrate the glory of the Rosario native.
There is no doubt that a young Messi will have walked the aisles and steps of the famous “Monumento a la bandera”, the other great pride of the city. At 70 meters, those who climb this tower can enjoy a magnificent view of the city and the Parana River. An ideal place to stroll and discover the outlines of Rosario.
Of course, the awesome southpaw certainly dribbled over the harbor docks. Perfectly equipped, the latter allows you to cross the blue waters of the river by boat but also, for the more athletic, by kayak or stand-up paddle.

Rosario

Image credit: Eurosport

A little further on, the "Parque de la Independencia" acts as the lung of this city. A gigantic green space, it offers a true haven of peace to the visitor who will be able to immerse themselves in the local culture while tasting a mate (Argentinian tea) in complete peace of mind. Mate, beef, ice cream, dulce de leche (a kind of caramel cream) are national treasures for the Argentinian people and not to be missed. Along with its football of course!

Paris, an air of Rosario

In Rosario, if Messi is God, he still has many disciples. To start with, the legendary Marcelo Bielsa. Now 66, a former Newell’s Old Boys has become a world famous coach, through not only his results, but also by his philosophy of good play. Closer to Messi, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Mascherano were also born in Rosario before rubbing shoulders with Leo in the national team, and even at Barça.
Today, Lionel Messi is officially no longer a FC Barcelona player. At 34 years, he has just signed with Paris Saint-Germain. The world of football is decidedly small and in the French capital he will not only find coach Mauricio Pochettino, native of Murphy, also a province of Santa Fé, but also Mauro Icardi and Angel Di Maria, all born in the same city as Lionel Messi!
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