Barcelona and Argentina star, Lionel Messi (born 24 June 1987) is often considered the best player in the world and rated by many in the sport as the greatest of all time. He joined Barcelona at the age 13 where he had a fast progression through the club’s youth academy. He made his competitive debut aged 17 in October 2004.
Despite being injury-prone during his early career, he established himself as an integral player for the club within the next three years, finishing 2007 as a finalist for both the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year award, a feat he repeated the following year. His first uninterrupted campaign came in the 2008–09 season, during which he helped Barcelona achieve the first treble in Spanish football. At 22 years old, Messi won the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year award by record voting margins.
The rest they say is history as his stats speak for itself.
Messi is the only football player in history to win five FIFA Ballons d’Or and the first player to win three European Golden Shoes.
He has won eight La Liga titles and four UEFA Champions League titles, as well as four Copas del Rey with Barcelona.
Messi holds the records for most goals scored in La Liga, a La Liga season (50), a calendar year (91), a single season (73), a Champions League match (five), and most Champions League seasons (five).
Though Messi has been criticized heavily in the past for his performances in Argentina’s colours, with many questioning his commitment levels in comparison to his Barcelona performances, Messi still boasts good success with the Albiceleste.
Messi is Argentina’s all-time leading goalscorer with 55 goals in 112 matches. He has represented his country in six major tournaments. At youth level, he won the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship, finishing the tournament as its best player and top scorer, and an Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics. His style of play as a diminutive, left-footed dribbler drew comparisons with compatriot Diego Maradona, who declared the teenager his successor. After making his senior debut in August 2005, Messi became the youngest Argentine to play and score in a FIFA World Cup during the 2006 edition, and reached the final of the 2007 Copa América, where he was named young player of the tournament. As the squad’s captain since August 2011, he led Argentina to the finals of the 2014 World Cup and the 2015 Copa América, and both times was selected as player of the tournament.
“I have fun like a child in the street. When the day comes when I’m not enjoying it, I will leave football.” – Messi explains his approach to the game in May 2011