Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 11th 2014 Contents BELO HORIZONTE---Shortly after com-
ing on as a second-half sub in
Argentina s last World Cup warm-
up, Lionel Messi doubled over and appeared
to vomit on the pitch.
He s done it at least a half-dozen times with
Argentina and club team Barcelona, mystifying
doctors and fans alike.
"Nerves," says Argentina coach Alejandro
Sabella, and that s a diagnosis as good as any.
The Argentina captain and four-time world
player of the year is under tremendous pressure
to lead the Albiceleste to its first World Cup
trophy since 1986.
"I reckon that in these moments there is
anxiety more than anything," Sabella said before
the team departed for Brazil, where it opens
its World Cup campaign against Bosnia-Herze-
govina on Sunday. "It s difficult to remain
Top athletes throwing up before, during or
after a competition is not unusual. Sometimes
it s because of the physical stress on their bod-
ies, sometimes because of performance anx-
What s unusual about Messi is that it seems
to happen quite randomly, not when the pres-
sure would seem the greatest or when he s
exhausted himself to the limit.
After Messi threw up less than 10 minutes
into a friendly match between Argentina and
Romania in March, his coach at Barcelona,
Gerardo Martino, said "something is not right,"
though he added that it wasn t affecting Messi s
Messi made that point clear against Slovenia
on Saturday, scoring Argentina s second goal
just four minutes after TV cameras showed
him dry-heaving and receiving a tablet from
Similarly, in 2011, he scored for Barcelona
after throwing up in the Spanish Super Cup
Final against Real Madrid.
Barcelona s medical staff hasn t been able
to find the cause. Neither have Argentina s
team doctors, nor Messi himself. The decorated
forward tends to not make a big deal of it,
saying it s just something that happens to him
in training, during matches and even when
he s at home.
"I don t know what it is. But I had a thousand
exams," Messi told Argentine broadcaster TyC
Sports earlier this year. "I start to feel nauseous
to the point where I almost vomit, and then
it goes away."
In those decisive moments that make or
break a football career, Messi doesn t show
any nerves or lack of confidence. His more
than 350 goals for Barcelona, a club record,
and 48 goals for Argentina speak for them-
But unlike some of the sport s other bright
stars, like Portuguese football diva Cristiano
Ronaldo or Swedish tough guy Zlatan Ibrahi-
movic, Messi doesn t act like a superstar off
He is a gentle, unassuming person who once
told Spanish newspaper El Pais "I m more
concerned with being a good person than being
the best footballer in the world."
Still, the pressure on him to be the latter is
huge. Even though he s just 26, his impressive
record with Barcelona, including six Spanish
league and three Champions league titles, has
already brought comparisons with all-time
greats like Pele and Diego Maradona. His
detractors like to point out, though, that unlike
those two, Messi has not won a World Cup.
He s only scored one goal and never gotten
past the quarterfinals in his two attempts on
football s biggest stage.
Argentina counts on Messi to do a lot better
in Brazil, where the team is considered one of
the title favorites much because of him.
Adding to the pressure is the view among
many Argentines that Messi, who left the
country at 13, doesn t play his heart out for
the national team.
That s something Messi admits affects him
"Argentina is my country, my family, my
way of expressing myself," he recently told
Spanish sports paper Marca. "I would change
all my record to make the people in my country
(More World Cup on Pages A52, A54,
A56 and A70).
• Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
SAO PAULO---Police say the 48-
year-old nephew of Brazil coach Luiz
Felipe Scolari has been killed in a car
accident just two days before the
team s World Cup opener.
Highway police in the southern
state of Rio Grande do Sul said busi-
nessman Tarcisio Joao Schneider, the
son of one of Scolari s sisters, died in
a crash yesterday morning.
Officer Carlos Borges told The As-
sociated Press that the car Schneider
was driving collided head-on with a
truck on the opposite lane.
The Brazilian football federation
was yet to confirm the information. It
wasn t clear whether Scolari would
leave the team s training camp out-
side Rio de Janeiro to travel back
Police say nephew of Brazil coach killed in crash
Argentina's Lionel Messi appears to vomit during an international friendly soccer match
against Romania on the National Arena stadium in Bucharest, Romania, on March 5. Messi
has vomited at least a half-dozen times with Argentina and club team Barcelona, mystifying
doctors and fans alike. AP PHOTO
to girlfriend Fanny
MANGARATIBA---Mario Balotelli took
care of some personal business before the
World Cup starts, proposing to his Belgian
girlfriend Fanny Neguesha early yesterday
"She said yes," the Italy striker posted
on Instagram. "The most important yes in
"That was the place of my question! I
Love you and happy birthday too!" Balotelli
added, next to a picture of a romantic beach
Balotelli also posted a picture of a dia-
mond ring on Neguesha s hand.
At training, Italy s squad applauded
Balotelli and he responded with a wave of
his hand and a wide smile. Then teammates
Antonio Candreva, Ciro Immobile and
Ignazio Abate went over to offer congrat-
"He must have gone through a lot of
emotions last night," teammate Claudio
Marchisio said. "But now we all need to
focus on the World Cup."
Balotelli continued to smile as he ran
alongside Immobile and chatted with the
forward who is posing a challenge to his
Earlier this year, Balotelli acknowledged
he has a daughter, Pia, from a previous
relationship with Raffaella Fico.
Coach Cesare Prandelli has opened Italy s
training base in Brazil to wives and girl-
The Azzurri face England on Saturday.
Brazil comes early
SAO PAULO---Will Brazilians choose love,
or love of the game? With the World Cup
opening on the same date Brazil tradi-
tionally celebrates its version of Valen-
tine s Day, merchants are helping lovers
and spouses figure out how to embrace
Operators of gift stores, love motels and
restaurants are encouraging Brazilians to
move their romantic plans up by a day, so
tomorrow s tournament start won t spoil
anyone s love life.
The Brazilian motels association said
yesterday it s partnered with beer company
Brahma to promote mottos such as "First
I will kiss you, then my jersey."
Celebrated every June 12, Brazil s Day of
the Lovers is one of the year s major shop-
ping days along with Christmas and Moth-
er s Day. Businesses say they are determined
not to let soccer cause their sales to
....bouts of nausea puzzle world of football
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