Lionel Messi is a legend in the eyes of many children. He is arguably a great player and continues to prove the same with his astounding performance in several matches. He is the key player of FC Barcelona and has been the reason for several victories of the team.
His Full Name
Lionel Messi is just the short form of his full name, which is Luis Lionel Andres Messi.
Although Messi was born in Argentina, his family is of Italian origin. His father was a steelworker and was also a coach for a local youth football team. Now we know where Lionel got his football instincts from.
His achievements are well known, but let’s rewind a little when he was 17 years old. At that age, he made his debut and became the third youngest person ever to play for Barcelona. His first match was against RCD Espanyol and hebecame the youngest player ever to score for his team.
Messi was not one of the healthiest kids around. At the age of 11, he was diagnosed with the deficiency of growth hormone, which was hindering his normal growth rate. His parents could not afford the expenses of his treatment, which were $900 per month. However, Barcelona was very much under the spell of his foot skills and therefore, they offered to pay his medical bills. He was called to Spain with his family at the age of 13 and was signed as a player of their football team.
The Paper Napkin Contract
FC Barcelona was so much in awe of Messi’s skills that they wanted to sign him then and there. As a result of this hurriedness, his first contract was signed on a paper napkin by Carles Rexach, who was the sports director at that time. There was no paper available at that time and hence, he signed the contract on a paper napkin.
Lionel Messi gained his Spanish citizenship in the year 2005. He presently holds 2 passports, one for Argentina and the other for Spain.
#10 at the back of his jersey is not just a coincidence. It also has a great story associated with it. He had succeeded this number from another great player Ronaldinho in the year 2008.
Lionel Messi made his international debut in the year 2005 as a substitute. He entered the ground in the second half as a substitute for Argentina in the match against Hungary but was only able to play for 47 seconds. He was shown a red card by the referee for elbowing. His debut, which was supposed to be a dream come true, turned out to be a nightmare for him.
Performance in Olympics
Messi, along with the Argentinian football team, had won a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. The final match was held at Bird’s Nest Stadium against Nigeria, and Argentina won by a score of 1-0. The goal was assisted by Messi and scored by Angel de Maria.
In the year 2009, Messi had won his first Ballon d’Or and the title of FIFA World Player of the Year. He won the Ballon d’Or by a margin of 240 points from Cristiano Ronaldo, who had won the award in 2008. After that, Messi won the inaugural FIFA Ballon d’Or in 2010, 2011 and 2012 as well. In addition to these awards, he is the only player to possess 3 European Golden Boot Award.
Contribution in Victories of the Team
Messi’s game is appreciated throughout the world. He has led his team towards many victories, some of them including 6 La Ligas, 2 Copas del Rey, 5 Supercopas deEspana, 3 UEFA Champions Leagues, 2 UEFA Super Cups and 2 Club World Cups.
Some More Achievements
One of his other achievements is being the only player, along with England’s Vivian Woodward, to be able to score 86 goals in a calendar year (2012). This record was previously held for 85 goals in the year 1972, by Gerd Muller. Messi played 66 games and scored 86 goals in total, which included 56 La Liga goals, 3 Copa del Rey goals, 13 Champions League goals and 2 Spanish Super Cup goals.
Messi is the sixth youngest player to score a goal in World Cup games. “The Flea” is one of his nicknames which he has got because of his speed and agility.
Playing for his Nation
Fascinated by his skills, Spain offered a place to him in their national team, but he did not accept it. Despite spending more years of his life in Spain than in Argentina, Messi played for the Argentinian National Team, however, he didn’t have a very good reputation among the Argentinians. He was referred as a “Spaniard” by the Argentina fans, but he impressed his country by taking home a Golden Ball.
The Golden Foot
A solid gold cast of his left foot was made and valued for $5.25 million. The foot was made by Tokyo jeweler Ginza Tanaka and it weighed 25 kg. It was made to celebrate Argentinian’s 4th Ballon d’Or and also to raise funds for victims of Tohoku earthquake and Tsunami in the year 2011.
The €250 million Buyout Clause
Being so talented, Messi has always attracted the attention of other football clubs. Barcelona certainly didn’t want to lose a player as good as him and therefore, to prevent another team to snatch him out of Barcelona’s grip, the buyout clause for him was set to be €250 million. Hence, even the wealthy clubs like Manchester United and Real Madrid can’t easily take him away from Barca.
Short Height, Don’t Care
Messi is the shortest forward player in the world. However, his short height, 5’6 ft., is not a hindrance in his playing skills. His sharp mind and great speed make him one of the best forwards.
Antonella Roccuzzo, Messi’s wife and the mother of his children, happens to be his childhood friend. Messi has known Antonella, who was a family friend since he was 5 years old. Even after he moved to Spain, the two never lost touch. In 2009, they struck up a relationship and in 2012, their son Thiago was born and in 2015, Mateo was born. Antonella is a model and the two make a lovely couple.
Messi is a Philanthropist
The Leo Messi Foundation was started by him in the year 2007, which helps less fortunate children with education and medical facilities. Messi is also a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. Undoubtedly, he has gained popularity throughout the world for making the best use of his name and wealth in making the lives of several poor children meaningful.
Messi expressed his unbounded love for his son Thiago, by getting his name and handprints inked on his left calf. He decided to celebrate the birth of his son by getting a tattoo, however, it is mostly hidden due to the length of socks he wears during the matches.
At the age of 29, Messi has achieved many things including fame, wealth and a happy family. He is believed to be the best player of his generation and is a tough competitor for Cristiano Ronaldo, who is also believed to be one of the greatest players ever. Leo Messi has won hearts of the whole world with his amazing and intelligent play. He still continues to rise despite the obstacles that come his way with his unmistakably good skills on the football field.