Messi playing for Barcelona at the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup
|Full name||Lionel Andrés Messi|
|Date of birth||(1987-06-24) 24 June 1987 |
|Place of birth||Rosario, Argentina|
|Height||1.69 m (5 ft 7 in)|
|1995–2000||Newell's Old Boys|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 18:03, 27 April 2013 (UTC).|
† Appearances (Goals).
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 15:38, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
Lionel Andrés "Leo" Messi (Spanish pronunciation: [ljoˈnel anˈdɾes ˈmesi], born 24 June 1987) is an Argentine footballer who plays as a forward for La Liga club FC Barcelona and the Argentina national team. He serves as the captain of his country's national football team. By the age of 21, Messi had received Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year nominations. The following year, in 2009, he won his first Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year awards. He followed this up by winning the inaugural FIFA Ballon d'Or in 2010, and again in 2011 and 2012. He also won the 2010–11 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award. At the age of 24, Messi became Barcelona's all-time top scorer in all official club competitions. At age 25, Messi became the youngest player to score 200 La Liga goals.
Consistently rated by commentators, coaches and colleagues as the best footballer in the world and as one of the greatest players in the history of the game, Messi is the first football player in history to win four FIFA/Ballons d'Or, all of which he won consecutively. Messi has won five La Ligas, two Copas del Rey, five Supercopas de España, three UEFA Champions Leagues, two Super Cups and two Club World Cups. In March 2012, Messi made Champions League history by becoming the first player to score five goals in one match. He also matched José Altafini's record of 14 goals in a single Champions League season. Messi became the first player to top-score in four successive Champions League campaigns. He set the European record for most goals scored in a season during the 2011–12 season, with 73 goals. In the same season, he set the current goalscoring record in a single La Liga season, scoring 50 goals. On 16 February 2013, Messi scored his 300th Barcelona goal. On 30 March 2013, Messi scored in 19 consecutive La Liga games, becoming the first footballer in history to net in consecutive matches against every team in the league.
Messi was the top scorer of the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship with six goals. In 2006, he became the youngest Argentine to play in the FIFA World Cup and he won a runners-up medal at the Copa América tournament the following year, in which he was elected young player of the tournament. In 2008, he won his first international honour, an Olympic gold medal, with the Argentina Olympic football team. Sportspro has rated Lionel Messi as the third most marketable athlete in the world. His playing style and stature have drawn comparisons to compatriot Diego Maradona, who himself declared Messi his "successor".
Early lifeMessi was born in Rosario, Santa Fe Province, to parents Jorge Horácio Messi, a factory steel worker, and Celia María Cuccittini, a part-time cleaner. His paternal family originates from the Italian city of Ancona, from which his ancestor, Angelo Messi, emigrated to Argentina in 1883. He has two older brothers, Rodrigo and Matías, and a sister, María Sol. At the age of five, Messi started playing football for Grandoli, a local club coached by his father Jorge. In 1995, Messi switched to Newell's Old Boys who were based in his home city Rosario. He became part of a local youth powerhouse that lost only one match in the next four years and became locally known as "The Machine of '87", from the year of their birth.
At the age of 11, Messi was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. Local powerhouse River Plate showed interest in Messi's progress, but were not willing to pay for treatment for his condition, which cost $900 a month. Carles Rexach, the sporting director of FC Barcelona, had been made aware of his talent as Messi had relatives in Lleida, and Messi and his father were able to arrange a trial with the team. Rexach, with no other paper at hand, offered Messi a contract written on a paper napkin. Barcelona offered to pay for Messi's medical bills if he was willing to move to Spain. Messi and his father moved to Barcelona where Messi enrolled in the club's youth academy.
BarcelonaMessi played in Barcelona's junior Infantil B and Cadete B & A teams from 2000 to 2003 (scoring 37 goals in 30 matches in Cadete A). Season 2003–04 saw him on a record five different teams: He started one match in Juvenil B (one goal) and got promoted to Juvenil A (14 matches, 21 goals). Later he debuted for FC Barcelona C team (Tercera División) on 29 November 2003 and for FC Barcelona B (Segunda División B) on 6 March 2004. He played for both teams during the season (ten matches, five goals and five games, zero goals, respectively). Even before these two debuts, Messi made his official debut for the first-team on 16 November 2003 aged 16 years and 145 days, in a friendly match against Porto.
Less than a year after his start, Frank Rijkaard gave him his league debut against RCD Espanyol on 16 October 2004 (at 17 years and 114 days), becoming the third-youngest player ever to play for Barcelona and youngest club player who played in La Liga, which would be broken by Bojan Krkić in September 2007. When he scored his first senior goal for the club against Albacete Balompié on 1 May 2005, Messi was 17 years, ten months and seven days old, becoming the youngest to ever score in a La Liga game for Barcelona until it was again broken by Bojan Krkić in 2007, scoring from a Messi assist. Messi said about his ex-coach Rijkaard: "I'll never forget the fact that he launched my career, that he had confidence in me while I was only sixteen or seventeen." During the season, Messi played also in Barcelona B (Segunda División B) scoring 6 goals in 17 matches