Facts About Footballs Superstar: Lionel Messi

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Lionel Messi also called Leo Messi was born in Argentina on 24 June 1987. His talent at football came to light very early. In 1995, at the age of eight he joined the youth team of Newell’s Old Boys, a top division football club based in Rosario.

Lionel was always noticeably smaller than his peers. By the time Lionel was thirteen he was diagnosed with a hormonal problem that was affecting his growth. His parents went in for nightly growth- hormonal treatment, but soon found it unaffordable. Newell’s too were not able to pay for the treatment. His parents approached River Plate, Argentina’s top club, but they too did not wish to foot the medical bills.

Lionel’s parents decided to move to Spain, as FC Barcelona had offered him a place in their prestigious youth training academy, La Masia. They left their home country without any money and with no jobs in the offing. They were determined to save their son’s life and help him achieve his footballing potential. At his first trial for FC Barcelona (Barca), in Catalan, the club was so impressed that they offered him a slot in the under 14’s and committed to pay for his treatment. Neither Messi nor Barca has looked back since.

Lionel rapidly advanced through the Barca C and Barca B to the first team. At the tender age of 16 he debuted for the Barca first team in a friendly with Porto.

Lionel Messi made his first division debut against Espanyol on October 16, 2004. On May 1, 2005 he became the youngest player ever to score a league goal for Barca in the match against Alacete. He was 17yrs, 10 months and 7 days old. This record has since been beaten by Bojan.

In the same year Messi played for his home country and led the Argentine under 20 team to victory over Nigeria with 2 penalty kicks.

Over the next few years Messi went from strength and was twice runner up for the Ballon d’Or award. By this time he had grown to 5 ft. 7”. He was a left foot forward, incredibly fast, with superb attacking skills. He was hailed as the next Diego Maradona.

The year 2009 was an especially successful year for Messi. He led his club to victory in three leagues, Champions League, La Liga and the Spanish Super Cup. This spectacular feat won him the Ballon d’Or (FIFA Player of the Year).Messi went on to win three more Ballon d’Or titles.

In 2010 FC Barcelona led by Messi won the La Liga and Spanish Super Cup. In 2011 they repeated the feat and added the Champions League.

2012 was a year of breaking records for Messi. He became the first player to score 5 goals in the Champions League, scored 91 goals in the calendar year breaking the previous record of 85 by Gerd Muller. He also crossed the 232 mark of highest number of club goals, held by Cesar Rodriguez. He broke one more record in January 2013 when he picked up his fourth Ballon d’Or.

Lionel Messi is unquestionably the world’s greatest football player. Maradona, when coaching the Argentine football team referred to Messi as ‘my Maradona’.

Messi’s won woe is his lack of World Cup titles. His first World Cup in 2006, he failed to score and Argentina was eliminated in the quarter finals. In 2010 Argentina lost 4-0 to Germany in the quarter finals. In 2014, Argentina reached the finals but despite brilliant play by Messi, Argentina lost 1-0 to Germany. However Messi’s efforts were rewarded when he was awarded the Golden Ball Award, 2014.

Despite his disappointment in the World Cup, Messi has won an Olympic Gold for his country, in Beijing, 2008.

The secret to Messi’s success is in his own words is his determination to retain the childish joy of playing football; to play because it makes him happy.

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