I'm sure this has happened to you before. You wake up the morning of a game with plans to tailgate all day then go check out the big event. Suddenly you get a call, and you find out you're not tailgating after all. You're going to play in the big game. No? Never happened to you? Me either. But for Cody Stanley, it did, and he's written all about the experience at Sippin' On Purple, SB Nation's Northwestern blog.
Cody played college soccer at Northwestern until 2010. Since then, he's moved on to the business world and occasionally writing over at Sippin' On Purple. He thought his big-time soccer days were over. In fact, dominating the local kickball beer league had been his sporting highlight. His only thoughts when Lionel Messi & Friends staged a charity soccer game in Chicago this past Saturday was to tailgate beforehand, and then watch the soccer game in person - a game that was going to include some of his friends who had played soccer together at Northwestern.
That all changed on Saturday. From Cody's first-person account at Sippin' On Purple:
Then, I received a phone call from my former coach at Northwestern, Tim Lenahan (who was coaching one of the teams) around 1:00 PM. He slow-played the phone call asking me if I was going to the game and I responded by saying, "Yes, I'm going, don't have tickets yet, just going to wing it and go tailgate and get tickets from a scalper". Then he was like, "how about this, bring your boots and get to the Hyatt downtown by 3". I was a bit taken back and didn't really believe him. After all, I don't play soccer anymore.
But he was going to play soccer, and he was going to play against the best player on the planet, Lionel Messi. All with beat up soccer cleats and no shinguards. This was like some Hollywood movie. It couldn't really be happening, but it was.
The big highlight of the game came from Cody's roommate, another former Northwestern player named Matt Eliason who was already scheduled to play in the game. Eliason performed a beautiful bicycle kick for a goal that landed him on SportsCenter as the Top Play. But Cody managed a highlight of his own, just not the Hollywood-ending type.
Instead, he got Messi-ized:
The ball is played over the top with Messi running on. I see Messi with the ball and start sprinting back at an angle to try and cut off his path to goal, I get back to the point where I think I may have a last ditch chance to slide and block the greatest in the game's shot. I slide and attempt to block the shot as things are seemingly going a 1,000 miles per hour, while Messi owns the world-class ability to slow the game down with his brilliant skill and soccer mind. So, as I'm sliding, Messi looks down at me says, "Oh, you Silly American" calmly cuts me up and then shoots and scores. That may or may not have been the actual dialogue, but as I am lying on the ground thats when it hit me that I was actually playing in this game, not in the stands, and that I had just gotten posterized by Messi on national TV. Sure looked like he was about to shoot to me...Hopefully, I'll get the call in to "LeBron and Friends" so I can get dunked on by him. That's next on the bucket list of infamy.
And here it is in all it's glory.
Congrats to Cody Stanley, Matt Eliason and all the NU soccer players who got to participate in the game. Now head on over and read the whole story, it has plenty of other interesting tidbits.