Football fans round the globe know that their idol Lionel Messi, alongside several other football celebrities in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil really love drinking yerba mate before a match, and proudly portray their mate on social media.
However, yerba mate is also turning popular among top footballers beyond those countries. For example Messi, Argentinian, Suarez, Uruguayan, Griezmann, French, and nowadays the scorer Wu Lei of RCD Espanyol (he was the first Chinese footballer to score against FC Barcelona in a European tournament). Wu Lei caused a stir in Chinese media when he posted a photo of himself having a Mate with his peer “El Mono” Vargas.
Argentina had always exerted some kind of influence on Wu Lei. In the 2008 Olympic Games, when he was just 16, he was a caddy for the Argentine team – he even took selfies with Messi and Agüero. But most importantly, his idol Messi and the Argentine “El Mono” Vargas – who he plays side by side with in RCD Espanyol football club – have been an inspiration for Wu Lei, who is now familiar with the virtues of Yerba Mate.
A short while ago, the Asian player shared a post on WEIBO (a sort of Twitter from China), complimenting his peer Vargas for being called for Argentina’s national team. The post had a photo of both players in the locker room, smiling and having a round of Yerba Mate. That was the same day Wu Lei turned into the first Chinese player in history to make a goal against FC Barcelona, just two minutes before the match ended. An incredible achievement which put Wu Lei at the top of the sports news.
This pleasing coincidence reminds us yerba mate has usually been regarded as the secret weapon of successful footballers.
Wu Lei, a young man born in the 90s, became a Chinese football celebrity and number 55 on Forbes List of Chinese stars. On January 17, 2020, he was granted the Golden Ball award in the Chinese Super League.
After his goal against Barcelona FC, when he realised his dream of playing with his boyhood idol, Messi, Wu Lei hit the papers and radio stations. World Sports News portrayed it as a thrilling move with a flawless end. The Aspen paper even stated Wu Lei’s goal against Barcelona would be watched by over a billion spectators.
This footballer, today recognised by thousands of fans in Spain and China, humbly looks up to other footballers and peers, and loves sharing with them not just the football pitch, but also a good Mate.
However, Yerba is not exclusive to football stars. Regarded as one of the top beverages in the World, Mate is today a tradition which brings people together for sharing and having a good time. A thousand-year-old custom which is spreading all around the globe.