Lionel Messi botches PK, blows lifelong dream of receiving NFL kicker tryout
NEW JERSEY — An inconsolable Lionel Messi sat slumped at his locker Sunday night following a hard-fought loss to Chile in the Copa America final — the loss accentuated by Messi missing his spot-kick in the championship shootout when his side held an early advantage after Chile’s first attempt was saved.
“I blew it. It’s over,” said the soccer legend, wiping tears from his eyes. “Now I’m never going get a tryout with the Tennessee Titans. Or the Houston Texans. Or even the Jacksonville Jaguars. I’m never going to get a tryout with any NFL team. The dream is over.”
The La Liga and Champions League scoring record holder, Messi has long made it known that — despite his wealth and international fame — his ultimate goal in soccer was to catch the attention of NFL GMs and get a tryout in America’s professional football league. This summer’s Copa America Centenario tournament being played in the United States — and in NFL stadiums — was thought to be his best shot to open eyes and receive a training camp invitation. The pressure clearly got to him.
“When I was a young boy in Argentina, just the age of 7,” Messi begins the famous story he has shared countless times, “I remember reading about the great American goalkeeper Tony Meola receiving a tryout with Jets of New York. ‘Mama! Papa!’ I yelled. ‘I want to be a Jet one day!’ ‘Oh, my beautiful boy, you’re probably too small for the great National Football League,’ said my father. ‘But if you practice very hard, maybe one day they will give you a tryout as a kicker or punter. Now run along and get to work.’ And so I did, every day, waiting for my opportunity.”
Sadly, the dream died at Met Life Stadium, home of the team that once featured Meola in training camp action.
“I’m 29 and I just blew the biggest kick of my career,” said Messi. “I’m not foolish enough to believe any NFL team would still want me.”
Told that a Buffalo Bills representative was waiting outside the Argentina locker room with a contract offer, Messi began weeping even harder.