Lionel Messi

Lionel “Leo” Messi was born on June 24 1987 in Rosario, Argentina. The four-time Ballon d’Or winner is widely considered to be the greatest footballer of all time.

 

Despite his size, Messi possesses incredible upper body strength and balance. He uses his low center of gravity and mesmerizing footwork to take on and bamboozle even the toughest of defenders.

 

Messi began his youth career with Argentine side Newell’s Old Boys, where he stayed for five years before moving to Barcelona.

 

As a youth player, Messi was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency and was often told he was too small to become a professional. While on trial at Barcelona, club sporting director Carles Rexach, was so eager to sign the player that he drew up a contract on a paper napkin. Barcelona agreed to pay for Messi’s medical treatment on the condition that he moved to Spain.

 

Messi rapidly worked his way up the ranks at Barcelona and made his senior debut in the 2004-05 season. The following season Messi made 25 appearances, scoring 8 goals. In the 2006-07 season Messi showed glimpses of what was to come, scoring an impressive 17 goals in 36 appearances across all competitions. In 2008 he was named the FIFPro Young Player of the Year for the third consecutive season.

 

Messi’s first astronomical season came in 2008-09, when he scored 38 goals, which was followed by tallies of 47, 54, 73, 60, 41 and 58. Messi’s is Barcelona’s all-time leading scorer, with over 400 goals and has smashed numerous club and world scoring records in the process.

 

Thanks largely to Messi, Barcelona have won seven La Liga titles and four Champions League titles during his time at the club, as well as 13 other honours.

 

As captain of the national team and second all-time leading scorer, Messi’s international career is as impressive. In 2005 he helped Argentina win the FIFA World Youth Championships, three years before winning Gold at the 2008 Olympics. Messi also guided Argentina to the 2014 World Cup Final, where he was named the tournament’s best player and the 2015 Copa America Final.

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