Messi playing for Barcelona
|Full name||Lionel Andrés Messi|
|Date of birth||24 June 1987 (age 24)|
|Place of birth||Rosario, Argentina|
|Height||1.69 m (5 ft 7 in)|
|1995–2000||Newell’s Old Boys|
Lionel Andrés Messi (Spanish pronunciation: [ljoˈnel anˈdɾes ˈmesi], born 24 June 1987) is an Argentine footballer who plays in La Liga for FC Barcelona and captains the Argentina national team, mainly as a forward.
Born in Rosario, Santa Fe, Messi began playing football at a young age and his skill and potential was soon realized by Barcelona. He left Rosario-based Newell’s Old Boys‘s youth team in 2000 and moved with his family to Europe, as Barcelona offered treatment for his growth hormone deficiency. Making his debut in the 2004–05 season, he broke his team record for the youngest footballer to score a league goal. Messi scored his first goal for Barcelona in official competition on 1 May 2005 at the age of 17 years, 10 months and 7 days. Major honours soon followed as Barcelona won La Liga in Messi’s debut season, and won a double of the league and Champions League in 2006. His breakthrough season was in the 2006–07 season; he became a first team regular, scoring a hat-trick in El Clásico and finishing with 14 goals in 26 league games. In the following season he scored 38 goals to play an integral part in a treble-winning campaign. This record-breaking season was then eclipsed in the following 2009–10 campaign, where Messi scored 47 goals in all competitions, equalling Ronaldo‘s record total for Barcelona. He surpassed this record in the 2010–11 season with 53 goals in all competitions, a record which he has since surpassed again in the still-ongoing 2011–12 season.
Messi was born in Rosario, Santa Fe Province, to parents Jorge Horacio Messi, a factory steel worker, and Celia María Cuccittini, a part-time cleaner. His paternal family originates from the Italian city of Ancona, from which his ancestor, Angelo Messi, emigrated to Argentina in 1883. He has two older brothers named Rodrigo and Matías as well as a sister named María Sol. At the age of five, Messi started playing football for Grandoli, a local club coached by his father Jorge. In 1995, Messi switched to Newell’s Old Boys who were based in his home city Rosario. At the age of 11, he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. Local powerhouse River Plate showed interest in Messi’s progress, but did not have enough money to pay for treatment for his condition, which cost $900 a month. Carles Rexach, the sporting director of FC Barcelona, had been made aware of his talent as Messi had relatives in Lleida, Catalonia, and Messi and his father were able to arrange a trial. Rexach, with no other paper at hand, offered Messi a contract written on a paper napkin. Barcelona offered to pay for Messi’s medical bills if he was willing to move to Spain. Messi and his father moved to Barcelona where Messi enrolled in the club’s youth academy.
By the age of 21, Messi received Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year nominations, won both the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year in 2009, and won the inaugural FIFA Ballon d’Or in 2010 and 2011. He also won the 2010–11 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award. His playing style and small stature has drawn comparisons to Diego Maradona, who himself declared Messi as his “successor”.
Messi has won five La Liga titles, three Champions League titles, scoring in two of those finals, against Manchester United in both 2009 and 2011. He was not on the pitch as Barcelona defeated Arsenal in 2006, but received a winners’ medal from the tournament. After scoring 12 goals in the 2010–11 Champions League, Messi became only the third player (after Gerd Müller and Jean-Pierre Papin) to top-score in three successive European Champion Clubs’ Cup campaigns. However, Messi is the first one to win the Champions League top scorer titles for three consecutive years after Champions League changed its format in 1992. Messi is the fourth football player to win three Ballons d’Or, after Johan Cruyff, Michel Platini and Marco van Basten and the second player to win three consecutive Ballons d’Or, after Michel Platini (however, two of his Ballons d’Or are FIFA Ballons d’Or, which he won consecutively). In 2012, Messi made UEFA Champions League history by becoming the first player to score five goals in one match, in a 7–1 win against Bayer Leverkusen.
Messi was the top scorer of the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship with six goals, including two in the final game. Shortly thereafter, he became an established member of Argentina’s senior international team. In 2006, he became the youngest Argentine to play in the FIFA World Cup and he won a runners-up medal at the Copa América tournament the following year. In 2008, in Beijing, he won his first international honour, an Olympic gold medal, with the Argentina Olympic football team. At international level Messi has scored 22 goals in 67 games.