September 22, 2014

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Boys soccer: Midview’s Messiah enjoying a dream career

Midview High School senior Sylvester Messiah  began his soccer career in his native South Africa. Now he's one of the best players in Lorain County. KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE

Midview High School senior Sylvester Messiah began his soccer career in his native South Africa. Now he’s one of the best players in Lorain County. KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE

As a young child, Silvester Messiah never dreamed he would one day be one of the best soccer players in Lorain County. In fact, the Midview senior may have had difficulty locating Northeast Ohio on a map.

Silvester was born in South Africa, where he spent the first 10 years of his life before he came to Columbia Station to live with his brother William Nicholson and his family seven years ago.

Messiah’s father, Reverend Wilfred Messiah, is a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and a native of Cape Town, South Africa. His mother, Carol, who is originally from Trinidad and Tobago, also works for the AME church.

Because his parents’ works often entail traveling around the world, it was decided that Silvester would come to the United States where he would have a stable home and benefit from the American educational system.

Silvester played rugby and cricket as a young boy but it was in soccer that he found his true passion.

“Soccer was bigger at that time and it was also the sport I was best at,” Messiah said. “I started playing in South Africa when I was really little. We learned to play in the streets — sometimes we’d have a ball, other times we would use whatever we could find.”

Fast forward to today and Messiah is a two-time, first-team all-West Shore Conference and all-Lorain County player who has led the Middies in scoring for the past two seasons.

“The first time Silvester touched the ball during our preseason training in his freshman year you could immediately tell he was something special,” Midview coach Jonathan Fitzgerald said. “He has incredible vision on the field and he sees the game differently than other players. That’s not something you can coach, that’s just something you pick up playing and watching the game. Either you have it or you don’t, and he has it.”

In addition to playing soccer year round — for Midview and his Cleveland FC team — Messiah is also a fan of the game. He said he has tried to model his style of play after some of the elite players in the world.

“I watch videos of Ronaldinho (Brazilian national team star and two-time FIFA World Player of the Year) all the time,” Messiah said. “He has incredible foot skills, and as a center mid I like to watch Alessandro Del Piero (who played 19 seasons for the Italian club Juventus). He just knows how to play the ball and how to distribute.”

Because he came to America at a young age, Messiah, who has dual citizenship, was able to acclimate to the American school system in time to have a traditional high school experience.

“My high school years have been pretty normal,” he said. “Midview is a really great school with nice people. I was able to play varsity soccer from my freshman year and I’ve had great coaches. I can’t believe I am a senior now and it’s almost over.”

Silvester also had a chance to experience the most American of high school traditions last year when he was a kicker on the Middies football team.

“It was a cool experience. I loved being around the football team. I know how big football is in America and it’s cool to say to I got to experience that and be a part of it,” said Messiah, who decided against playing both sports again this fall. “I felt it would be a wise decision to stick with soccer and not risk injury playing football especially if I want to play soccer in college.”

Messiah has yet to decide on a college but Fitzgerald knows he has the talent to play at the Division I level.

“He has so much natural talent he is definitely a Division I prospect,” Fitzgerald said. “He’s a great midfielder in high school because at this level you have to put a kid that talented up from or at center mid so they can score goals. But his natural position might actually be in the back, he’s also a great defender and he has the speed and field awareness to lead the charge from the back.”

Despite all the success Messiah has had during his high school years, it’s still tough to be a 17-year-old whose parents are half the world away.

“It’s been hard being away from my parents,” Messiah said. “But it has helped me to grow and make decisions for myself. And they come here for three months every summer so we get to spend time and do family things together.”

Fitzgerald pointed out that as impressive as Messiah has been on the field, he is just as impressive off the field.

“He is one of the most charming young men I have ever had the pleasure to be around,” Fitzgerald said. “He is so talented and everything seems to come so easy to him but he never comes across as cocky. We haven’t always had the best teams here at Midview, but I have never seen Silvester get frustrated. He just keeps working to make himself and everyone around him a better player. I think I can speak for his teammates and the rest of the coaching staff when I say that everyone enjoys being around him.”

Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.