Lionel Andrés Messi, born on June 24, 1987, is an Argentine professional footballer who is considered one of the greatest players of all time. Messi plays as a forward for Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain and captains the Argentina national team.
Messi is the most decorated player in La Liga history, having won a record 8 La Liga titles, 7 Copa del Rey trophies and 4 UEFA Champions League titles during his time at Barcelona. At the international level, Messi led Argentina to the 2014 FIFA World Cup final and brought the team glory by winning the 2021 Copa América title.
With over 750 goals and 350 assists for club and country, Messi is Barcelona’s all-time top scorer and Argentina’s all-time leading goal scorer. His individual accolades are unparalleled, including a record 7 Ballon d’Or awards, 6 European Golden Shoes and 10 La Liga top scorer awards.
Let’s take a deeper look at Lionel Messi’s early life, professional career milestones, achievements and impact on the beautiful game.
Early Life and Beginnings
Lionel Messi was born in Rosario, Argentina to a working-class family. His father Jorge was a factory worker and his mother Celia was a part-time cleaner. Messi has two older brothers Rodrigo and Matías, and a sister María Sol.
At the age of 5, Messi started playing football for Grandoli, a local club coached by his father. In 1995, at the age of 8, Messi joined Newell’s Old Boys, a prestigious Rosario-based club. He impressed with his phenomenal skills, leading the youth side to many trophies.
Medical Conditions as a Child
At the age of 10, Messi was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. As the treatment cost nearly $1000 per month in Argentina, a substantial amount for a working-class family, his parents could no longer afford it.
In 1997, scouted by Barcelona officials, Messi had a trial with the Spanish club, who were so impressed that they offered to fund his medical treatment if he was willing to move to Spain. Messi and his father agreed, beginning the next phase in Messi’s journey to superstardom.
Professional Career at Barcelona
Messi moved to Barcelona at the age of 13, joining the club’s prestigious youth academy La Masia. His progress as a young player was rapid.
Debut and First Team Promotion
Though hampered by injuries in the initial years, Messi made his first team debut at the age of 17 in 2004. The following year, he secured a regular spot in the first team and signed his first professional contract.
Still only 19 years old in 2006, Messi scored his first hat-trick for Barcelona, the first of many more to come. That same year, he won his first Champions League title with the club.
Becoming a Barcelona Star
The 2006-07 season was Messi’s breakthrough year, as he became a star player at Barcelona. With Ronaldinho beginning his decline, Messi took over the main attacking role.
He helped Barcelona win the La Liga and Copa del Rey double that season. Though plagued by injuries again, he scored 17 goals in 36 games across all competitions.
Messi’s Prime and Unparalleled Success
From 2008 onwards, Messi entered the prime of his career. His combination of blinding speed, creative dribbling, lethal finishing and playmaking abilities made him virtually unstoppable.
He led Barcelona to unprecedented success both in Spain and Europe, winning 3 Champions League titles and 6 La Liga titles from 2009 to 2015. Individually, he won an unprecedented 4 straight Ballon d’Or awards from 2009 to 2012.
Some of Messi’s most notable achievements during this phenomenal period include:
- Scored a Barcelona record of 73 goals in all competitions in 2011-12
- Became Barcelona’s all-time leading scorer in March 2012 aged just 24
- Scored 91 goals in 2012 to break Gerd Muller’s 40-year old record for most goals scored in a calendar year
- Formed the legendary ‘MSN’ trio with Luis Suarez and Neymar from 2014-2017. The trio scored a record 364 goals together.
End of an Era at Barcelona
After a disappointing 2014 World Cup with Argentina, Messi had one of his best seasons in 2014-15 under manager Luis Enrique, leading Barcelona to a historic second treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League.
Messi continued to break records for Barcelona, becoming the club’s all-time appearance leader in 2020. However, tensions grew between the club and Messi. After a tumultuous 2020-21 season that included Messi requesting to leave, he eventually departed Barcelona as a free agent in 2021 after 17 years.
Career Milestones and Notable Achievements
Over the course of his record-breaking career with Barcelona, Messi has achieved some extraordinary milestones and accomplishments at club and individual level. Here are some of the highlights:
- 10 La Liga titles – Most in La Liga history
- 7 Copa Del Rey trophies – Most in Barcelona history
- 4 UEFA Champions League titles – Helped Barcelona win 3 titles in 6 years from 2009-2015
- 7 Ballon d’Or awards – Most ever, 4 consecutive from 2009-2012
- 6 European Golden Shoes – Most ever, 3 consecutive from 2010-2012
- 6 Pichichis (La Liga top scorer awards) – Joint most ever
- 474 La Liga goals – All-time La Liga top scorer
- 672 goals – Barcelona’s all-time top scorer
- 778 goals – All-time top scorer for Barcelona and Argentina
- 260 La Liga assists – 2nd most all-time in La Liga
- 48 hat-tricks – All-time top scorer in La Liga history
- 79 games scoring 4+ goals – All-time record in Spanish football
- 91 goals in a calendar year (2012) – All-time football record
In addition to his mountain of goals and silverware, Messi has racked up an astounding collection of individual honors that cement his legacy as one of football’s greatest of all time.
Impact and Legacy at Barcelona
Lionel Messi is widely regarded as Barcelona’s greatest ever player for his phenomenal performances and achievements over 17 seasons. Here’s an overview of the profound impact he made:
Barcelona’s All-Time Greatest Player
- Led Barcelona to most successful era in its history with 34 titles
- Holds all-time club records for appearances (778), goals (672), assists (265)
- Won a club record 35 trophies as Barcelona player
- Integral part of legendary squad under Pep Guardiola from 2008-2012
Club’s All-Time Leading Scorer and Creator
- Accounted for over 50% of team’s goals from 2008 to 2020 season
- Scored 40+ goals for 10 straight seasons from 2008-09 to 2017-18
- Registered the most assists in La Liga for Barcelona (191)
- Holds records for most hat-tricks (48) and 4+ goal games (79) in Barcelona colors
Led Dominance of El Clásico vs Real Madrid
- Scored a record 26 goals in El Clásico, the fixture between Barcelona and Real Madrid
- Was the decisive player in Barcelona’s famous 5-0 win over Real Madrid in 2010
Commercial/Financial Impact on Barcelona
- Main face of Barcelona’s global brand for over a decade
- Biggest factor in Barcelona becoming the world’s richest club from 2008 to 2021
- Helped negotiate record $88 million per year shirt sponsorship deal with Rakuten
There is no doubting that Messi is the greatest Barcelona player ever. The club may never see a player of his calibre wearing the Blaugrana colors again. He spearheaded Barcelona’s most successful period and left behind a legacy as their all-time top scorer, creator and appearance maker.
Career with the Argentina National Team
Aside from his stellar club career, Lionel Messi is a prominent figure for the Argentina national team, though his achievements at international level haven’t matched his club success.
Early International Career (2005-2014)
Messi represented Argentina across various youth levels before making his senior debut in 2005 aged 18. At the 2006 World Cup when he was still a teen, he became the youngest Argentine player to play and score at a World Cup.
Messi was part of Argentina’s gold medal winning squad at the 2008 Olympics but could not replicate that success at subsequent World Cups. Argentina were eliminated in the quarterfinals in 2006 and 2010, with Messi failing to score or assist a goal in the knockout rounds.
Lionel Messi is one of those rare talents that only come around once in a generation, if not a lifetime. His astronomical records and achievements for Barcelona have made him a genuine candidate for the greatest footballer of all time.
Messi’s brilliance has been a result of his natural gifts combined with an almost superhuman work ethic and burning competitive drive. His low center of gravity, sublime dribbling ability, two-footed finishing, playmaking vision and creativity have dazzled football fans for over 15 years.
While he has achieved more collective and personal success at club level with Barcelona than country with Argentina, Messi’s legacy and impact is firmly cemented in football folklore. His feats in La Liga, the Champions League and El Clásico will likely remain unsurpassed for decades.
For any young footballers with dreams of making it to the top, Messi’s career provides the perfect blueprint. His humility, professionalism, resilience and excellence are qualities to be admired and emulated. There is no doubt that stories of Messi’s Barcelona and Argentina heroics will be told by football fans for generations to come.
Frequently Asked Questions
When did Messi make his debut for Barcelona?
Messi made his competitive debut for Barcelona on October 16, 2004 against RCD Espanyol at the age of 17 years and 114 days.
How many Ballon d’Or awards has Messi won in his career?
Messi has won a record seven Ballon d’Or awards (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, 2021). He is the only player to win 4 consecutive Ballons d’Or from 2009-2012.
What is Messi’s best goalscoring season?
Messi’s most prolific season was 2011-12 when he scored a mind-boggling 73 goals in 60 games across all competitions for Barcelona, including 50 goals in La Liga.
What is Messi’s most iconic moment/goal for Barcelona?
Some of Messi’s most iconic Barcelona moments are his Champions League header against Man Utd in 2009 CL final, his solo goal vs Real Madrid in 2011 Champions League semi-finals, and his sublime goal vs Athletic Bilbao in 2015 Copa del Rey final.
Does Messi hold the record for most goals in a calendar year?
Yes, Messi holds the Guinness World Record for most goals scored in a calendar year. In 2012, he scored an astonishing 91 goals in 69 games for Barcelona and Argentina.
How many goals has Messi scored for Argentina?
As of January 2024, Messi has scored 98 goals in 173 appearances for the Argentina national team. He is Argentina’s all-time leading scorer.
What trophies has Messi won with Argentina?
The major trophy Messi has won while representing Argentina is the 2021 Copa America. This was his first ever major title for Argentina’s senior side.
Where does Messi rank among the all-time great footballers?
Messi is considered alongside the likes of Pele, Maradona and Cristiano Ronaldo as one of the greatest footballers of all time. Many regard him as the GOAT (Greatest of All Time)
What is Messi’s playing style and key attributes?
Messi’s main attributes are his dribbling skills, close ball control, speed, creativity, playmaking vision, and ability to finish with both feet and his head despite his small stature.
What is the legacy and impact of Messi’s career?
Messi’s phenomenal career has inspired generations of young footballers. He spearheaded Barcelona’s most successful era ever and his achievements have set the bar higher for future footballers in terms of excelling at the highest level.