To see Leo Messi, locals in Rosario watch him on television, or go to the city museum. Like so many players, Messi’s professional career developed abroad. He played for Newell’s Old Boys until he was 13. The unbeaten youth side he formed part of before emigrating, was nicknamed the Machine. Ernesto Vecchio, a mechanic by trade, coached that side. Vecchio worked for Newell’s Old Boys for 28 years. Mornings at his garage, afternoons coaching youngsters. He says Messi was an exceptional talent, right from the start. Vecchio now works for Sarmiento, a small club with 300 players– associated with the Leo Messi Foundation in Rosario. They train youngsters with a view to sending them off to play in Europe. Those idiosyncrasies include lower quality training facilities, and kids with underprivileged backgrounds. Football is seen as one route to a better life for many families, and for clubs and player agents, big business.There are hundreds of schools like this across Argentina giving young players the training they hope will give them a career in the professional game. Player transfers worldwide are a 3 Billion-dollar-a-year industry. And after Brazil, Argentina is one of the world’s largest exporters of players. Rosario takes as much pride in its sports talent-as it does its agricultural output. On Leo Messi’s shoulders rest Argentina’s hopes for World Cup success. Back home, clubs rely on selling players, whether they are the next Messi, or not. CCTV’s Joel Richards reports.
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