Junior Messias’s late winner against Atletico Madrid was the perfect, poetic culmination of the 30-year-old’s inspiring journey from delivering fridges to the top rung of European football.
The Wanda Metropolitano served up a blockbuster night, as Diego Simeone’s men hosted the Rossoneri with both sides desperate to get points on the board. The clash was locked in an intense tie up till the 87th minute, which saw the scale finally tipping in favour of the Italians.
Having stepped onto the field with less than thirty minutes left in the game, Messias displayed excellent composure under pressure.
With 3 minutes left to go, the Brazilian cut in through the opposition backline and met a lobbed cross from Franck Kessie, depositing it past Oblak with a picture-perfect header leaving the visitors thrilled to bits and in with a chance to progress to the knockout stages of the competition.
MESSIAS.— 🇩🇲 (@xaco__) November 24, 2021
Problemón para el Atleti. pic.twitter.com/7mrRP72n7S
From Sunday League to the top tier of European football
Messias’s last-moment heist marked a monumental milestone in his playing career. Post his immigration from Brazil, the South American was a part of Serie D club Gozzano till three years back.
He was a major factor in the club’s promotion to Serie C in 2018 when he finally made his professional debut in football.
Messias continued to rise through the ranks, making his way up to Serie B club Crotone, where he stacked up to nine goals in 36 appearances, assisting his club’s promotion to the Italian top flight.
His impressive trajectory however wasn’t as smooth behind the scenes, as the Brazilian had to take up a series of jobs on the side to make ends meet when he first came to Italy in 2011. The player himself admitted that he had lost all hope of playing professional football when he was 25.
His perseverance finally paid off, as he caught the eye of the Rossoneri who procured his services on loan.
Junior Messias’s progress from Serie D to the holy grail of European football is nothing short of a fairytale. The midfielder has made a solid case for himself to be considered as a full-time AC Milan player, as his loan spell approaches its conclusion.