The fabulous story of Junior Messias, savior of AC Milan in the Champions League

It is a miracle. On the verge of being eliminated from the Champions League by being held in check on the lawn of Atlético de Madrid, AC Milan is still alive today. Because in the last minutes of the meeting, Junior Messias scored the only goal of the match, the one that offers a surprise 1-0 victory to the Italians. One day from the end of the group stage, everything is restarted since the Rossoneri, still 4th in this group B, are now only a small point behind Porto and the Colchoneros before receiving Liverpool, already qualified, in two weeks. A passage in the 8th finals is still possible.

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One miracle can hide another. The hero of this first Milan victory in C1 for 8 years unlocked his goal counter in this competition at the age of 30. A late deflowering that holds in an explanation. The Brazilian attacking midfielder has only been a professional for 3 years and is discovering the Champions League this season. Landed in Milan last August in the form of a loan with option to buy from Crotone, the left-hander hardly even played with his new team due to two injuries. Yesterday evening, he was only playing his third end of the match.

From worker on construction sites to goalscorer in the Champions League

« I felt like crying. Everything I have experienced has crossed my mind. It is pure emotion. I thought of God, he’s the one who wrote my whole story ”, enthused the pious Messias after the victory, rewinding his exploit in passing. “I saw the ball and I didn’t hesitate. I sent him to the bottom of the net. I dedicate this goal to my family and friends in Brazil, as well as to all those in Milan who believed in my qualities. ” His return to school was decisive last night. Entered in the 65th place in place of Krunic, he offered a first goal to Bakayoko 5 minutes later, simply from the knee by Savic on his line, and a second to Ibrahimovic, checked by Oblak.

This story looks like a fairy tale. There are still 4 years, Junior Messias played in Serie D, among fans of Gozzano with whom he snatched the promotion. Spotted by Crotone, who pays 400,000 euros to recruit him definitively in June 2019, the Brazilian only turns professional at 27. The crazy dream becomes reality when he had made a cross a few years before, when he still lived on the other side of the Atlantic. Hope in Cruzeiro where he fails to break through, he borders on death after the marriage of his brother. Too tipsy, he falls asleep at the wheel and ends up in the background. New miracle.

« I earned 20 cents for each polished brick »

In 2011, he emigrated to Italy to join his brother in Turin. Then 20 years old, the native of Belo Horizonte lives in the difficult but cosmopolitan district of Barriera di Milano. He has to make a living and finds work on construction sites where he cleans bricks all day, earning « 20 cents for each polished brick », before becoming a mason. He then hired in a transport box thanks to the meeting of a Peruvian entrepreneur by the name of Oscar Arturo Vargas. The latter offers to deliver household appliances to individuals.

“I carried the parcels and I made the deliveries of household appliances, especially the refrigerators. I loved this job, especially when I delivered to an elderly person, and she offered to come in for coffee and chat. The elders often feel alone, a bit like me, because my family was far away, and I lived alone, with no one to hug me at night. So we would talk, I would talk to them about Brazil, and they would tell me their memories ”, later told the one who was not predestined at all for a career as a professional player.

24 hours that changed everything

It was then that his boss set up his football team, Sport Warique, made up of the Peruvian diaspora and called on Junior Messias. The latter is obviously much too strong in this sort of corporate championship. The tide definitely turns when his team faces that led by Ezio Rossi, a former pro of the 80s / 90s. « At the end of the match, I went to the pitch and told him that a player like him could not stay there », recounted the ex-defender of Torino in an interview with Di Marzio. He even got him a contract in the 5th division at Fossano, but less well paid than his job as a delivery man.

Forced to refuse, the Brazilian then hears the Christ word when leaving the church: the phone call so hoped for for years from the prefecture. His situation is finally regularized. The next day, another phone call will also make a difference. It was again Ezio Rossi on the other side of the combined who found him a try at Casale, still at the 5th national level. « You do a few days of testing, and if it goes well, I talk to the president. » Messias abounds. « For me, that was the message I was waiting for. »Especially since the pay is more interesting this time.

In competition with Romain Faivre

With 1,500 euros per month, the Brazilian can start his ascent by thinking only of football. “He scored 21 goals and was decisive for the championship victory. Obviously, he stood out. I told him to watch out for sharks, but he didn’t listen to me ” , regrets Protector Rossi. Despite the presence of crooked agents, Messias spun at 25 years old towards Chieri then Gozzano where he made his hole between the 4th and the 3rd division. Crotone then comes to get him. Together, they climb in Serie A, the player then gets to know the highest level.

The rest is now known to all. In the transfer window, Milan prefers a Frenchman, Romain Faivre, but the deal is not done. The Rossoneri are falling back on another choice, a little by default, by being loaned to this attacking midfielder of 30 years already and yet a novice at this level. The deal, however, is cheap. It is especially Maldini who is seduced, both for the player and for his history. The Lombard victory in Madrid proved him right. « If it’s the best night of my career? » I hope not, that more like this will arrive. Against Liverpool, it will be difficult, we will have to play our game and remain humble. « As for humility, we can trust this football miracle.

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