Even for people who have never kicked a football in their life know the name Messi. Few people in the world hold the regard of someone who is so passionately loved and admired by people who aren’t even a fan of his team. His technique, incredible dribbling and record breaking goal scoring ability has rightly given him the accolade as one of the greatest players ever to play the beautiful game.
Luis Lionel Andres (or Leo as he goes by) Messi was born on June 24 1987. He is an Argentinian soccer player who plays forward for the FC Barcelona club and the Argentine national team. At the age of 13, Messi moved from Argentina to Spain after FC Barcelona agreed to pay for his medical treatments. There he became a star and led his club to championships. In 2012, he set a record for most goals in a calendar year, and in 2016, he was named Europe’s Ballon d’Or winner for the fifth time.
Messi’s net worth an estimated is estimated in the region of 250 million euros, taking into account his salary plus bonuses and endorsements, according to Forbes. That makes Messi the second highest-paid soccer player and the third highest-paid athlete in the world, after fellow soccer great Cristiano Ronaldo and basketball star LeBron James. Almost universally regarded as the best soccer player in the game, Messi has become the commercial face of soccer with endorsements from Adidas, Pepsi, EA Sports and Turkish Airways, among other companies.
At only 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighing just 72 kilograms Messi is by no means a burly player. With his short stature, speed and relentless attacking style, Messi has drawn comparisons to another famous Argentinian footballer: Diego Maradona. Being a short football player can actually be an advantage. Maybe not in defence where height can actually be especially important! But in a roll where you are running with the ball a lot, being shorter gives you a lower centre of gravity and therefore gives you much better balance. This is part of the reason why Messi is such an incredible dribbler of the ball.
On June 30, 2017, Lionel Messi married Antonella Roccuzzo, his longtime girlfriend and the cousin of his best friend and fellow soccer player Lucas Scaglia. Messi met Roccuzzo in their hometown of Rosario when he was five years old. Their marriage, a civil ceremony dubbed by Argentina’s Clarín newspaper as the “wedding of the century,” was held at a luxury hotel in Rosario, with a number of fellow star soccer players and Colombian pop star Shakira on the 260-person guest list.
Messi became a father in November 2012 when Roccuzzo gave birth to a son, Thiago. In September 2015, the couple’s second son, Mateo, was born. We will have to wait a while to see if these guys live up to the Messi name and become footballing legends themselves!
As a young boy, Lionel Messi tagged along when his two older brothers played soccer with their friends, unintimidated by the bigger boys. At the age of eight, he was recruited to join the youth system of Newell’s Old Boys, a Rosario-based club.
Recognizably smaller than most of the kids in his age group, Messi was eventually diagnosed by doctors as suffering from a hormone deficiency that restricted his growth. Messi’s parents, Jorge and Ceclia, decided on a regimen of nightly growth-hormone injections for their son, though it soon proved impossible to pay several hundred dollars per month for the medication. So, at the age of 13, when Messi was offered the chance to train at soccer powerhouse FC Barcelona’s youth academy, La Masia, and have his medical bills covered by the team, Messi’s family picked up and moved across the Atlantic to make a new home in Spain. Although he was often homesick in his new country, Messi moved quickly through the junior system ranks.
By the age of 16, Messi made his first appearance for the FC Barcelona. He put himself in the record books on May 1, 2005, as the youngest player to ever score a goal for the franchise. That same year, he led Argentina to the title in the under-20 World Cup, scoring on a pair of penalty kicks to propel the team over Nigeria.
Messi’s signing was easily the best transfer the club has ever made as he was helped steer Barcelona to a wealth of success, most notably in 2009, when the left-footer’s team captured the Champions League, La Liga, and Spanish Super Cup titles. That same year, after two consecutive runner-up finishes, he took home his first FIFA World Player of the Year”honor/Ballon d’Or award.
Even the great Maradona gushed about his fellow countryman. “I see him as very similar to me,” the retired player told the BBC. “He’s a leader and is offering lessons in beautiful football. He has something different than any other player in the world.”
Amazingly, the soccer wizard continued to improve, discovering new ways to elude defenders while leading Barcelona to La Liga and Spanish Super Cup championships in 2010 and 2011, as well as the ’11 Champions League title.
Messi embarked on an all-out assault on the record books in 2012. He became the first player to score five goals in a Champions League match in early March, and a few weeks later he surpassed Cesar Rodriguez’s club-record 232 goals to become Barcelona’s all-time leading scorer. By the end of 2012, Messi had accumulated an astounding 91 goals in club and international play, eclipsing the 85 netted in a single calendar year by Gerd Muller in 1972. Fittingly, he broke another record when he was named the FIFA Ballon d’Or winner for the fourth time in January 2013.
The soccer great came back to earth somewhat that year due to the persistence of hamstring injuries, but he regained his record-breaking form by becoming the all-time leading scorer in La Liga and Champions League play in late 2014. After helping Barcelona achieve a historic second treble in 2015, he was honored with his fifth FIFA Ballon d’Or trophy.
For all his success with Barcelona, Messi has come under fire for his inability to help Argentina’s national team win a major title. He did lead “La Albiceleste” to the final of the 2014 World Cup, and was named player of the tournament, although his team lost to Germany. In 2016, following Argentina’s second consecutive loss to Chile in the final of the Copa America tournament, Messi announced he was ending his run with the national team. You can’t win ‘em all I suppose!
Despite the lack of success with his national team Messi will remain one of the greatest football players in the world.