Junior Messias 

Position: Attacking midfielder 

Age: 24 (born May 13, 1991) 

Shirt number: 30 

Country: Brazil  

At AC Milan since: 2021 

Started from the bottom, now we are here. That meme line basically sums up the rags-to-riches story of the Brazilian who had toiled his way in the lower tiers of Italian football to become Stefano Pioli’s veteran reliable with Milan winning the Scudetto, thanks to his main role in the midfield. 

Junior Messias had already given up on football as a career, after his dream of having a career out of it was crushed by his hometown club Cruzeiro despite being one of the best youth prospects. Along with his family, he migrated to Turin to join his brother and worked on different jobs from brick cleaning to kitchen delivery man, but his passion for the game was still there as he plays on an amateur side on his free time. 

Enter former Torino man Ezio Rossi. He did not just sign him for fifth tier Casale in 2015, but also got his residency visa sorted (he came to Italy undocumented) and a monthly wage of €1,500 that enabled him to play full-time. The result: 21 goals in 32 games for the former Serie A champions as they won Group B of their Eccellenza 

From there, he moved to Chieri and then Gozzano, helping the latter achieve promotion to Serie C before Crotone came in to give him his first foray into the big time as they were promoted as Serie B runners-up on his first season. 

He spent another year at the toe of the peninsula as Milan took him back up north on loan this season, appearing for 25 straight times in the Serie A (26 in total) and scoring five goals as the Rossoneri won the Scudetto after a long drought.  

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