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I think around 80% it is due to a lifetime of hard work in a perfect environment (FC Barcelona's Academy) surrounded by the best people in the game. The other 20% may come from his psychological abilities, being able to reach very high levels of concentration at peak moments. Notice that he is not a very active and working player throughout the whole match, instead he shines through certain moments.

Some people also related this to the Asperger's Syndrome. http://www.reddit.com/r/aspergers/comments/1m17yp/alltime_gr...

Lionel Messi was already known as an outlier as a young boy in Argentina. The psychological abilities and lifetime of training at Barca simply molded something that was already there, but there are hundreds of other footballers who trained at Barca the same time Messi did and none of them are Messi. Some of them are very very good, but none of them are Messi.

True, it's the 20% that makes him better than players like let's say Cesc Fabregas (same football academy) who is a top-level player but kind of lacks the magic. Also note that there is a thin layer between a very good player and a great one, sometimes measured in miliseconds and centimeters but the output is fantastic! :)

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