Meet Kozhikode's Messi who adores both Leo and Cristiano

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Muhammed Messi. Photo: Special arrangement

In Kerala's Kozhikode district there is a teenage boy who becomes the talk of the town every time the Argentina men's football team is in action.

That is because the boy is named after the legend: Messi. He is Muhammed Messi, a 16-year-old, plus-one student in Feroke.

Such is the burden of the name that young Messi was reluctant to go to school last Wednesday because Argentina had suffered a shock 1-2 defeat to Saudi Arabia in the Qatar World Cup a day before.

But Muhammed Messi is now used to the attention. "Sometimes when I'm playing football with friends and I miss a scoring chance, they tease me by saying Messi would have scored," says Messi.

A fan of two GOATs
Football fans debate over who is the best, Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. It is a debate that hasn't been settled for the last decade or so. But Muhammed Messi has a simple answer to the eternal question: "They're both great."

Muhammed Messi (right) watching the Qatar World Cup with his father Niyas V at their house in Feroke, Kozhikode.

"I like both of them. Ronaldo plays a power game while Messi is full of tricks. They're both great players," Messi says.

Maradona's influence
Incredible as it may sound, the late Argentine genius Diego Maradona had a say in Railway catering contractor Niyas V and his wife, Firosh Bindhu naming their second child.

When the couple welcomed their second boy on May 20, 2006, Malabar, renowned for its football frenzy, was warming up to the World Cup which was to be held in Germany between June 9 and July 9.

Niyas, being a football fan and an ardent Argentina supporter, chanced upon a translated column by Maradona that appeared in a vernacular daily. Maradona had named a few young stars he thought would light up the World Cup; the ace of the pack was an 18-year-old, Messi.

Niyas was convinced, and he named his newborn, Messi. That was even before young Leo had made his World Cup debut against Serbia and Montenegro in Argentina's second group match on June 16, 2006.

Since then, every time Lionel Messi takes centre stage, a lovely smile flashes across the fresh face of his young namesake in Kozhikode. What's in a name, huh?

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