The audition at Como that never existed and the shadow on the Duomo: Lionel Messi and Italy

The story of one of the greatest narrative deceptions that football has ever known and the illusion of an all-Italian summer.

“They called me ‘Poison’ maybe because I never give up, because I’m annoying”: this story has more than one protagonist, all accomplices of one of the greatest narrative deceptions that football has ever known. To speak, in the opening words, is Luca Cattaneoa talented attacking midfielder who has lived his career in the minor leagues, but who, given his qualities, could easily have served in Serie A for years, had it not been for the many, too many injuries that penalized the explosion.

The fact is that, to hear him speak, he was there: he was a Comothe day of the most famous audition of Lionel Messiconcluded with the final discard and the many regrets entrusted to the microphones and fished out at each Golden Ball won by the “Pulce”.

“My father accompanied me to the audition and was bewitched. I was looking out for real football and a few meters from me there was the one who is the strongest in the world today. I was taken. For once they preferred me to Messi, even though we weren’t competing because he is two years younger than me. Obviously there is no comparison: he is the strongest of all, he is my idol “, he told Il Secolo XIX.

The relationship between Messi and Italy is all here: in the story of a day that would seem to have irreversibly marked the history of football, creating a ramification in the great time line, altering the multiverse.

It is also and above all the matrix of any speculation carried out in the early 2010s, in the period of maximum expression of the “Diez” at Barcelona: more were the opponents missed by Messi, more were the citations to the audition with Como. In a continuous and reciprocal relationship of parallel and tacit coexistence.

Here, tacitly: because there are few historical testimonies, in reality, leaving out the declarations of some of those present. The second protagonist of our story is Enrico Preziosiformer president of Genoa and owner of Como between 1997 and 2003, the year in which the most sensational difference that football could ever remember, at least in words, would take place.

“He came to us for an audition, he was 15 and we discarded him. It was not decided to take him for various situations in Como: every now and then some mistakes are made “.

A recent mistake, in short, of those that are made at the Playstation, but which cannot be afforded in reality. Patience. To corroborate the thesis, and to give it substance, the interview given to Gazzetta TV in 2015, an occasion in which Preziosi also spoke about figures and details relating to the investment.

“The player was pointed out to me by Favero, our observer in Argentina. At the time, 50 thousand dollars had to be invested in addition to the parents “.

Even on the occasion of the Wembley Final, won by Argentina against Roberto Mancini’s Italy, someone brought out the memory of that day, with the classic “Just think, we could have seen him play in Italy, if only Como hadn’t discarded him”. But maybe.

The last time Messi was insistently approached our country clearly dates back tosummer of 2020 and the spot used by Suning TV to present the match between Inter and Napoli: the shadow of the “Pulce” projected on the Milan Cathedral. The web explodes.

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Messi Duomo Milan


It is a strange period, that: we talk more and more insistently about the renewal of the Argentine with Barcelona and the possibility of a sensational farewell to the Blaugrana, which became a reality a year later, with the transfer to the PSG. In short, everyone around the San Siro believes in it, also because there are not half of denials. Even Massimo Moratti, former Nerazzurri president, he exhibited himself decisively at “Radio Kiss Kiss” in those days.

“Sometimes dreams come true, especially in football. And the fact that his father bought a house in Milan, near the Inter headquarters, I hope it can mean something from this point of view. Maybe, to sign the contract he will go on foot … “.

Obviously, now, thinking about this story also makes you smile a little: but in those days, whether you remember it or not, everyone talked about it in more or less concrete tones. Messi never made it to Serie A, however: great pity. Cathartic, almost: we can say, with a little irreverence, that we have saved ourselves from the endless live TV coverage on arrival at the airport, on visits and on signing. That’s okay, in short.

Returning to “Veleno” Cattaneo, however, his career has taken a decidedly different turn than that of “Pulga”: in 2018, for example, he signed with Reggiana, leaving Brescia. In the following weeks, introducing himself to the square, he dusted off the memory of that audition, but added important details to close our story, towards the final dissolution.

“We connected the matter some time later, when Enrico Preziosi declared this anecdote on TV”, he explained to TuttoC.

What’s the point? That Lionel Messi, from Como, has never been there, except on vacation. And as hard as it is to digest, this is the reality of the facts. The version of Preziosi, the true protagonist of this story, as well as that of Cattaneo, obviously an unaware accomplice, was denied by the idea of ​​the Corriere di Como which, one day, decided to seriously investigate, asking directly to the press office of the Barcelona lights up the story.

“Leo Messi has never been to Como to audition with any team”.

And the end of the story: that of the audition never held by Messi with Como, of the unjustified regrets of Italian football for having let one of the greatest footballers ever escape. If it is not too much, however, we want to believe it all the same, for that insane desire to feel part of his experience and the career of a legend, who has always been believed to have been preferred “Poison” Cattaneo. And so be it.

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