Lionel Messi —Is the world’s greatest soccer player a fashion icon?

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Lionel Messi

Argentina’s Lionel Messi shows off the FIFA Men’s World Player of the Year Award during the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala 2013 held at the Kongresshaus in Zurich, Switzerland, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Keystone, Walter Bieri)

The world of soccer dressed up Monday night to celebrate the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala 2013 in Switzerland. Argentinian Lionel Messi won his fourth consecutive FIFA Ballon d’Or that crowns him not only as the best current soccer player in the world, but as the best soccer player ever. Sports media worldwide call the FC Barcelona striker “immortal” and “a legend.”

But this time Lionel Messi drew attention for something other than winning the “Oscar of Soccer” award. The usually discrete, kind of shy Messi unexpectedly appeared dressed in a polka dot suit by Dolce & Gabanna that caught everybody´s eye. The Italian firm has an agreement with the player, who lends his image and wears the designers’ suits at official appearances. And last night he chose one of his most striking ensembles to date. Why?

The polka dot suit, a tribute to Maradona

Yesterday, posts on Twitter recounted how Diego Armando Maradona wore a very similar suit when he won his own Ballon d’Or years ago. That’s false, according to Spanish newspaper Marca. Maradona dressed in that suit to attend the April Fair. It was the early 90s and he played in Seville, capital of Andalusia. Polka dots on a black or red background is the typical print of the flamenco dress, which is the traditional dress of the region of Andalusia.
Surely young Messi wanted to wink to his beloved countryman. Both are left-handed, have worn #10 for both FC Barcelona and Argentina’s national team and have been considered the world’s best players in different years. Their admiration is mutual. As recorded by the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, Maradona admits that Messi is his successor, although he specifies that “time will tell which one was the best.”

 

Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi drew attention for something other than winning the “Oscar of Soccer” award. He appeared dressed in a polka dot suit by Dolce & Gabanna. Pictured: Diego Maradona (left) and Lionel Messi (right). (Facebook/AP Photos)

When soccer players became sexy

When I was little, footballers were short, compact, scowling guys. Football was a sport for boys. I had three brothers and I never became interested. But then David Beckham came along and everything changed. Suddenly, watching a man run after a ball began to be kind of sexy.

Lionel Messi is a bit like the old-school players. He’s short and not very graceful. But he’s got flare, and has previously shown that boring business suits are not his thing. In previous galas he’s chosen to wear velvet suits and bold colors like burgundy. But on this occasion, the brand new dad decided to leave his comfort zone behind when it comes to fashion. His outfit even eclipsed the gorgeous female companions of the other players, like journalist Sara Carbonero, girlfriend of Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas, and of course the model Irina Shayk, partner of Messi’s big competitor Cristiano Ronaldo, who looked stunning but not very happy that night.

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