Lots of young men have been compared to Lionel Messi, the Barcelona and Argentina superstar. Being called “the next Messi” is both the highest compliment and the most daunting of designations for young players.
But the guy who might actually be the next Messi doesn’t even play the sport.
Reza Parastesh, a 25-year-old Iranian student, bears such a striking resemblance to the 29-year-old player that he’s been causing traffic chaos, forcing the Iranian police to take him to a station and get his car off the road, according to Agence France-Presse.
Ever since his father talked him into sending a picture to a sports site, Parastesh has been a sensation. He has grown a Messi-like beard, gotten the same haircut and begun wearing Messi’s jersey around town. And it’s resulted in a slew of interviews with international media and several modeling deals.
The thing is, Parastesh doesn’t actually play soccer. He has announced that he’ll try to learn to juggle, however, to better imitate Messi.
Parastesh’s father sounds like a piece of work, by the way. He apparently was so angry that Messi’s injury-time goal knocked Iran out of the 2014 World Cup that he told his son to stay away. “After the game, my dad called me and said: ‘Don’t come back home tonight. Why did you score a goal against Iran?’ ” Parashesh told AFP. “I said, ‘But that wasn’t me!’ ”
The student hopes to parlay his new fame, and the demand for selfies wherever he goes, into a job working for Messi himself. “Being the best player in footballing history, he definitely has more work than he can handle,” he said. “I could be his representative when he is too busy.”
Good luck with that.
Leander Schaerlaeckens is a soccer columnist for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @LeanderAlphabet.
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