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How 'Messi and Friends' led Northwestern's all-time leading scorer to chase his dreams in Iceland

Matt Eliason's dream of playing professionally appeared to be over, until a chance appearance in a friendly with Lionel Messi changed his life.

Thierry Henry laconically flicks a cross toward the penalty spot, to where Matt Eliason is waiting to chest it down. Cushioning the ball perfectly into the air, Eliason throws his body back and catches the falling ball sweetly, as his leg whips around over his head. The net bulges. On the other team, Lionel Messi can only look on in wonder.

If it sounds like a your-name-here dream for the Matt Eliason character, it was, sort of, though in many ways the reality of what followed that fantasy moment...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Lionel Messi was unparalleled in 2017-18, topping year-end Power Rankings

After their runners-up finish in 2014, the ESPN FC crew assess Lionel Messi and Argentina's chances of lifting the World Cup in Russia.
Following his record-breaking season, the FC crew debate whether Mohamed Salah has surpassed Neymar as the best player after Messi and Ronaldo.

We tabulated the votes from all our global editors throughout the 2017-18 Player Power Rankings to see who had the best season of them all. Could anyone match Lionel Messi's magic?

1. Lionel Messi

Why he's here: Messi played all over the pitch for Barca this season, in a campaign in which the Blaugrana did the Liga and Copa del Rey double, and still managed to win Europe's Golden Shoe race with 34 goals in La Liga; across all competitions, that number rose to 47, and he chipped in 21 assists...

 By Adam Hurrey

Guardiola's Pep talk, Evra kicks fan, Coutinho's leaked move: 18 things you may have forgotten from this season

The 2018 season is over for teams in Europe. But here are 18 things you might have forgotten happened.

1. Arsenal won a trophy -- and Sead Kolasinac was hailed as a cult hero

August's hopes and dreams are distant enough by now, but the curtain-raiser of the Community Shield traditionally does well to stay in the memory for more than a few weeks. After Sead Kolasinac had taken less than 50 minutes to acclimatise to English football -- scoring a later equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Chelsea that then...

 By Nick Miller

Paul Gascoigne's tears, Luis Suarez bite feature in infamous World Cup bans

Luis Suarez opens up about his infamous biting incident at the 2014 World Cup.
Luis Suarez opens up about his infamous biting incident at the 2014 World Cup.
Luis Suarez opens up about his infamous biting incident at the 2014 World Cup.

This article has been edited and originally appeared on ESPN FC on June 25, 2014. 

Here, we take a look at those whose World Cup was cut short for a range of misdemeanours. Here's 10 of the "best". 

10. Alessandro Costacurta, 1994

Italy, in truth, stumbled into the final of the 1994 World Cup, scraping through their group on goals scored and being essentially carried on Roberto Baggio's back throughout the knockout rounds. Their eventual defeat to the Brazil of Romario, Bebeto and Dunga...

 By Nick Miller

World Cup Top Tenner: Hand of God, Suarez's bite, Banks' save, best matches

Martin Ainstein's tour of the World Cup host cities arrives at the scene of the Battle of Stalingrad, the largest and bloodiest of World War II.

The World Cup has showcased the best and worst football has to offer throughout its history. 

Here, we take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly from tournaments gone by. Each week a new Top Tenner will be released in the lead up to the big kickoff in Russia. 

April 2 -- Controversies

The 10 biggest controversies, including Diego Maradona's Hand of God goal.

April 9 --  Upsets

The biggest tournament upsets, led by the Maracanazo.

April 16 -- Bloopers

Roberto Baggio's penalty,...

 By Shaka Hislop

Real Madrid go top; Bayern, Barcelona tumble down Power Rankings

With the UCL final on the horizon, the FC panel assess Gareth Bale's recent form and debate whether it merits a place in Zinedine Zidane's XI.
Captain Sergio Ramos hopes Real Madrid can win third consecutive UEFA Champions League title.
Zinedine Zidane said that the club's history means that every player wants to play in the Spanish capital amid speculation of Neymar joining the club.

Last week's top two clearly could not handle the pressure! It's all change at the top again as the European champions claim first place.

Dropping out: Roma.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know, and watch Shaka defend his picks on ESPN FC TV!

Shaka Hislop played for over 10 years in the Premier League and represented Trinidad and Tobago at the 2006 World Cup. Watch him on ESPN FC TV!