Lionel Messi is still playing at an impossibly high level at the age of 32.
Recently crowned The Best Men’s Player of the Year at FIFA’s ceremony, the Barcelona star is showing no signs of slowing down as he attempts to add more gloss to what has been a glittering career.
Messi’s start to the 2019/20 season was riddled by injuries – a reminder of the fact that he won’t be around forever – but he’s returned with a bang.
He produced an exquisite assist against Inter Milan at the start of the month in his first full appearance of the season and followed that up with a sumptuous free-kick in Barcelona’s 4-0 win against Sevilla.
And his longevity at the top can be put down to a drastic change in his diet.
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The Daily Mail’s Pete Jenson wrote an in-depth piece on the Argentinian’s eating habits last year.
Messi’s talent was clear very early on but there were questions on whether he could he maintain his quality as the years passed.
As a teenager, he enjoyed fizzy drinks and fast food. And he struggled to shake those habits.
Pep Guardiola was reportedly left to demand a drinks machine be removed because it was too close to the home team’s dressing room at the Camp Nou.
Meanwhile, former Barcelona manager Charly Rexach once claimed that Messi had: “eaten more pizza than he should have done”.
An Argentine speciality called Milanesa (a thin fillet of beef shallow-fried in breadcrumbs) is also something that Messi enjoys tucking away.
But it soon dawned on Messi that change was required if he was too continue to play at the highest level in his thirties and beyond.
“What you can put into your body at 18 or 19 years of age is not the same as what you can put in at 27,” he said.
He began to work with Italian nutritionist Giuliano Poser in 2014,
Poser says foods heavy in sugar and refined cereals are detrimental to muscle repair and recuperation.
Instead, fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, seeds and salads seasoned just with olive oil are pivotal to Messi’s eating regime.
Whole grain rice or pasta are also staples of his diet and he’s also cut down drastically on his consumption of meat.
The body has to work hard to digest a diet rich in meat and so, despite a highly-carnivorous diet being common with Argentinians, Messi decided to reduce his intake.
Fizzy drinks have been replaced with mate tea, a traditional South American caffeine-rich infused drink.
Messi saw Poser for the first time after the 2014 World Cup and returned to Barcelona that summer three kilos lighter.
He weighs 67 kilos to this day and that weight is better for his 5ft 5ins height than the heavier weights he once played at.
Messi decided to stop seeing Poser at the start of last season, instead choosing to work with Barcelona’s own nutrition team.
He now works with Doctor Maria Antonia Lizarraga Dallo, who offers similar advice to Poser.
Players are encouraged to refuel as soon as possible after a match, usually with sushi or pasta.
Alcohol is completely banned, South American style barbecues are the exception, not the rule and the natural anti-inflammatory turmeric and also fish high in Omega-3 fatty acid are recommended.
It’s a complete overhaul that has enabled Messi to continue to thrive into his thirties.
He’s also reduced his commitments to the Argentina national team.
His commitment to his craft is admirable.