In what has to go down as one of the greatest sports stories of the year, an amateur former Northwestern University soccer player, named Matt Eliason, scored an breathtaking goal against a team led by the world’s greatest player, Lionel Messi.
The game billed as “The Rest of the World vs. Lionel Messi and Friends” took place on June 6 at Soldier Field in Chicago and featured an array of world renowned soccer players, but there was only one star.
Here’s what you need to know about America’s next sports hero…
1. Eliason Was Only Drafted in Because of a Low Turnout of Players
— Arsene's Son (@hughwizzy) July 6, 2013
The Rest of the World team had been struggling to make up the numbers for the game, players such Eliason and other amateurs were drafted in. The charity game was won 9-6 by Lionel Messi’s team.
2. He Was a College Legend
Eliason was a record breaking goalscorer for the Northwestern Wildcats. According to his profile on the school’s website:
Second-team All-Big Ten selection … First in school history with 82 career points and 33 goals … Preseason second-team All-America selection of College Soccer News … One of 39 individuals named to watch list for Hermann Trophy … Candidate for Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award … Tied for team lead with six assists … Tallied career goal No. 31 in a victory over Oregon State (9/19) to become the school’s all-time leading goal scorer.
Eliason is a native of Lombard, Illinois.
3. He Works in Corporate Finance
Eliason works as an analyst for GE Capital.
4. Eliason’s Goal Showed Perfect Technique
He described the goal to the Chicago Sun-Times:
Once the ball was in the air, I thought I might as well go for it in front of all these fans. It’s not every day that you get to play Messi. So I thought I’d give it a try, and fortunately it worked out.
It’s just amazing to be on the same field as him.
It’s highly likely that after such a goal, some MLS teams may take another look at Eliason. After leaving college he had try-outs with the Chicago Fire but never made the cut.
5. The Game Nearly Never Went Ahead
After a dispute with promoters the game was nearly canceled, players such as Thierry Henry, Javier Mascherano and Florent Malouda were late additions to the game, reported the Associated Press.
The charity game was part of a series designed to help sick and at-risk children in Argentina, as part of the Leo Messi Foundation.