Just watch how focused a very young Lionel Messi is on juggling the soccer ball. Messi is about ten years old in this video, with the soccer ball nearly as big as he is, but this doesn't stop him from keeping the ball up and off the ground.
And notice all the other kids around him, watching Messi juggle the ball, just waiting for him to mess up or lose focus. Of course Messi ignores them all and just keeps juggling the ball.
As Brian Phillips notes over at Grantland, Messi just loves playing soccer and trying to master the soccer ball. And that's why he became the best player in the world. He loved to play and only wanted to try to get better and better.
"There’s one in particular. He’s 10, and he’s surrounded by other kids in full uniforms — it’s during a match, maybe it’s halftime. And he’s just juggling the ball with his left foot. The other kids are standing close. He doesn’t seem to notice. He just watches the ball, keeps it up, foot, knee, foot, knee. He looks transfixed. You get an impression of someone so absorbed by the movement of the ball that it occupies his entire mind.
That everything outside the connection he has with the ball is not quite real. Not that it’s menacing or unpleasant; just that it’s sort of to one side. He’s not interested in other people and their egos or in whether he’s being watched. He’s interested in the ball, in making it do what he wants. It’s an end to him, not a means. There’s a feeling of extreme serenity that I take from this. He played the same way as a 17-year-old. He plays the same way now."