Recently winning his third consecutive Ballon d'Or award has earned Lionel Messi a headshot and the title of "King Leo" on the cover of the latest edition of Time Magazine. Well, every cover except the United States version, where a story about "The Power of (shyness)" was deemed more marketable. Then again, it's not entirely clear that this isn't just a more subtle portrayal of Messi.
Barcelona's official website boasts that Messi is the first footballer to ever claim the cover of Time, but this isn't true. The 1999 women's World Cup-winning U.S. team became the first-ever footballers to be featured on the cover that year. In 2010, the magazine's World Cup guide cover story had a drawing of a generic, faceless player, though Didier Drogba was featured along with Lady Gaga and Bill Clinton for that year's "100 most influential people in the world" issue. And in 2002, David Beckham and Ahn Jung Hwan appeared on Europe and Asia editions, respectively. Still, the cover story has never been wholly devoted to one male footballer across multiple international editions before Messi, which is something of a feat, even though pictures on magazine covers are increasingly irrelevant.
This is far from the first instance of Time using a cover for the U.S. that is different from the rest of the world editions, though. Previously, the U.S. has gotten covers about the division of domestic chores, the silent majority and the China bubble instead of the rest of the world's covers on Islam, "Why the U.S. Will Never Save Afghanistan" and Tintin, respectively.
As for the magazine's actual interview with Messi, the topic of media-enforced rival Cristiano Ronaldo proved to be a prime subject of discussion. And, unsurprisingly, it once again proved how little of a rivalry there is between Spain's top two scorers.
On whether his rivalry with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo makes him a better player:
I don't think so. I never really fixated on him, or compared myself with another player. My mentality is just to achieve more each year, to grow both as an individual and as a team, and if he wasn't there, I'd be doing the same thing.
On what he thinks of Ronaldo:
I think he's a good person. I think he's a good player, who brings a lot to Madrid, and who, in any moment, can decide a game.
If Time really wanted to push this imaginary rivalry, they should've put Ronaldo on that U.S. cover.
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