Lionel Messi is one footballer who does not need any introduction. As far as club football and individual honors are concerned he has it all. However, not many may know that this glorious career could have been stalled even before it started. This is because at the age of 11 he was diagnosed with Growth Hormone Deficiency (GHD). This is basically a medical condition that can be caused because of insufficient growth hormones in one’s body. This growth hormone is produced by the pituitary gland. This particular gland is found in the brain and is the size of a pea.
Pituitary gland has some definite functions. It is supposed to maintain the right balance of hormones in one’s body and also produce the said hormone that is so necessary for an individual to grow. This is the reason why he was shorter than his colleagues at that time till the time he got treated for the same. He says how each night of the year for 3 years he was treated by sticking a needle in his legs. It was only after the treatment was completed that he started to grow the right way. In fact, when he was 11 years old he was only 4 feet and 2 inches.
Now he stands at 5 feet and 7 inches. This shows that the treatment has been effective in his case.
In his childhood, Messi may have been short but his incredible capabilities were always on show. His first club was Newell’s Old Boys and here he was coached for the first time by Gabriel Digeralamo. Digeralamo vouches for his former ward’s abilities saying how during the halftime or before the game he was asked by the club’s directors to come to the pitch and show some tricks with the ball.
In fact, whenever the club visited Mar del Plata or the neighboring areas he would perform these tricks prior to the game and people would shower him with money. In fact, Digeralamo says that Messi was so good that he could control the ball at his will for 15 minutes. In Peru, once he got around 1200 touches on the ball without losing control. He was only 9 years old at that time. However, coming to the treatment part, the family was unable to bear the costs after a point since it was a middle class one.
As a result of this Newell’s lost his services and this is where Barcelona came in. The Catalan club was immensely bowled over by what it saw from the 13-year-old Messi, signed him to a contract and paid for his treatment.
As Dr. Diego Schwarsztein states the injections provided to Messi were different from the growth hormones used by adult athletes in high doses with negative effects to gain a sporting advantage. They do not need it but in Messi’s case, it was necessary because he was a child and needed treatment to address his condition.