Lamine Jamal, a “genius” who has paved a glorious path that Messi is close to ending | Sports

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At the age of 16, Lamine Jamal began a glorious career when he became the youngest scorer in the history of the European Championship, leading Spain to victory over France in the semi-finals. Hours later, his idol, the Argentine Lionel Messi, scored the goal that helped his country reach the final of the Copa America, where he is fighting the “last battles” of a legendary career.

Before Jamal scored his wonderful goal against France on Tuesday, a picture of Messi holding a baby during a photo session in 2007 at the Camp Nou stadium, when he was lighting up the Barcelona sky with his rare talent at the beginning of his career, went viral.

This child was none other than Lamine Jamal, and his father, Mounir, reposted the photo on Instagram last week, captioning it “The beginning of two legends.” It was taken after UNICEF held a raffle in Mataró, where the Moroccan-born player’s family lived.

This photo taken on Sept. 2007 shows a 20-year-old Lionel Messi, who had embarked on his legendary Barcelona career just over four years prior, cradling Lamine Yamal, who was merely six months old at the time during a photo session in the dressing room of the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, ​​Spain. Lamine Yamal is now a soccer sensation for both Spain and Barcelona and he is still only 16-years-old.  (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)
Messi holds baby Lamine Jamal (Associated Press)

Like Messi, who joined Barcelona at the age of 13, Jamal joined the famous La Masia academy from a young age, and began breaking records due to his talent exploding at a young age.

Like the left-footed Messi, he makes his way down the right flank; firing curling balls into deadly corners and playing peeling passes to his teammates. After shaking the French net with a wonderful shot, dribbling past Adrien Rabiot, he became the youngest player to score in the history of the continental tournament at 16 years and 362 days.

“I wish I had half of his achievements.”

Comparisons have been made between Jamal (1.78m) and his idol Messi (1.70m), who are able to dribble past opponents without much effort, but Jamal rejected the comparison: “He is the best player in history and comparing him to me is unbelievable. He cannot be compared to any other player, especially me who has just started my career. I hope to achieve half of his achievements.”

“Let’s not be afraid to compare him to Lionel Messi,” wrote the Catalan newspaper Sport. “He is still light years away (from Messi) and it is true that he is still in his infancy, but at the age of 16 his talent indicates that he will be one of the greats.”

For its part, AS wrote in French about the player who completed his school exams during the European Cup: “Good evening, my name is Amin Jamal and I will write history.”

According to Opta statistics agency, the only two players in the last World Cup and the current European Cup who created more than 15 chances, 15 shots and 15 dribbles are Messi, the 2022 World Cup champion with Argentina, and Jamal, whose country qualified to meet the winner between England and the Netherlands next Sunday in Berlin.

Born on July 13, 2007 to a Moroccan father and an Equatorial Guinean mother, Jamal will be 17 and has asked his mother not to give him any presents for his birthday, “just being in the final and winning it is something big.”

It will be his first coronation with his national team, after winning the Spanish League title with Barcelona in 2023, and this will put him on the map of promising players capable of charting a rich career.

Messi scores the second goal against Canada in the Copa America semi-final (Reuters)

“The Last Battles”

Thousands of miles away in New Jersey, Messi was writing a new chapter in his trophy-studded career.

After winning the 2022 World Cup for the first time and winning the Golden Ball for the best player in the world 8 times, the American Inter Miami player is now one match away from leading Argentina to retain the Copa America title.

The 37-year-old scored the second goal against Canada and his 109th international goal, earning him the Man of the Match award, as did Jamal against France.

He again touched on the uncertain date of the end of his career, which saw him win the Champions League four times with Barcelona: “I am experiencing this as it happened in the last Copa America, in the last World Cup… these are the last battles and I am enjoying them as much as possible.”

Jamal and Messi never had the chance to play on the same team, and many talented youngsters have had their careers cut short after promising starts, raising doubts about whether he will continue to rise in the future.

But Jamal is a “genius,” according to his coach Luis de la Fuente, who said, “We saw a genius… He is a player we have to take care of. I have to advise him to continue working with humility and keep his feet on the ground.”

“Maradona, Messi and now Jamal,” said former German star Lothar Matthaus, while Spain’s all-time top scorer David Villa said he was “a unique player… his abilities are limitless.”

Barcelona have extended Jamal’s contract until 2026 with a €1 billion release clause, amid reports that elite European clubs are seeking to sign him and give him the famous number 10.

But the most important stop for Jamal after his birthday on Saturday will be the first major final, in a career that carries the genes of the Argentine mosquito close to retirement.

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