Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lionel Messi


Early life

Messi was born on 24 June 1987 in Rosario, Argentina, to parents Jorge Messi, a factory worker, and Celia (née Cuccitini), a part-time cleaner. His paternal family originates from the Italian city of Ancona where his ancestor, Angelo Messi, emigrated to Argentina in 1883. He has two older brothers named Rodrigo and Matías as well as a sister named Maria 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. At the age of 11, he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. Primera División club River Plate showed interest in Messi's progress, but did not have enough money to pay for the treatment, as it cost $900 a month.Carles Rexach, the sporting director of Barcelona, had been made aware of his talent as Messi had relatives in Lleida, Catalonia, and Messi and his father were able to arrange a trial.Barcelona signed him after watching him play, offering to pay for the medical bills if he was willing to move to Spain.His family moved to Europe and he started in the club's youth teams.

Club career


Messi made his unofficial debut for the first team in a friendly match against Porto on 16 November 2003 (at 16 years and 145 days) Less than a year later, Frank Rijkaard let him made his league debut against 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 (a record broken by team mate Bojan Krkić in September 2007). When he scored his first senior goal for the club against Albacete on 1 May 2005, Messi was 17 years, 10 months and 7 days old, becoming the youngest to ever score in a La Liga game for Barcelona until 2007 when Bojan Krkić broke this record, scoring from a Messi assist. Messi said about his ex-coach Frank Rijkaard: "I never forget that Rijkaard has launched me. That he gave me confidence as I only sixteen, seventeen years was."

2005–06 season

"Messi I think is like me, he is the best in the world along with Ronaldinho."
Diego Maradona.
On 16 September, for the second time in three months, Barcelona announced an update to Messi's contract – this time improved to pay him as a first team member and extended until June 2014. Messi obtained Spanish citizenship on 26 September and was finally able to make his debut in the season's Spanish First Division. Messi's first home outing in the UEFA Champions League came on 27 September against Italian club Udinese. Fans at Barcelona's stadium, the Camp Nou, gave Messi a standing ovation upon his substitution, as his composure on the ball and passing combinations with Ronaldinho had paid dividends for Barcelona
Messi netted six goals in seventeen league appearances, and scored one Champions League goal in six. His season ended prematurely on 7 March 2006, however, when he suffered a muscle tear in his right thigh during the second leg of the second round Champions League tie against Chelsea. Frank Rijkaard's Barcelona ended the season as champions of Spain and Europe.

2006–07 season

Messi in a match against Rangers in 2007
In the 2006–07 season, Messi established himself as a regular first team player, scoring 14 times in 26 matches. On 12 November, in the game against Real Zaragoza, Messi suffered a broken metatarsal, ruling him out for three months. Messi recuperated from his injury in Argentina, and his return to action came against Racing Santander on 11 February, where he came on as a second-half substitute. On 11 March, El Clásico saw Messi in top form, scoring a hat-trick to earn 10-man Barcelona a 3–3 draw, equalising three times, with the final equaliser coming in injury time. In doing so he became the first player since Iván Zamorano (for Real Madrid in the 1994–95 season) to score a hat-trick in El Clásico. Messi is also the youngest player ever to have scored in this fixture (scheduled match). Towards the end of the season he began finding the net more often; 11 of his 14 league goals for the season came from the last 13 games.
Messi shortly before scoring a goal against Getafe
Messi also proved the "new Maradona" tag was not all hype, by near-replicating Maradona's most famous goals in the space of the single season. On 18 April 2007, he scored two goals during a Copa del Rey semi-final against Getafe, one of which was very similar to Maradona's famous goal against England at the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico, known as the Goal of the Century.The world's sports press drew comparisons with Maradona, and the Spanish press labelled Messi as "Messidona". He ran about the same distance, 62 metres (200 ft), beat the same number of players (six, including the goalkeeper), scored from a very similar position, and ran towards the corner flag just as Maradona did in Mexico 21 years before. In a press conference after the game, Messi's team-mate Deco said: "It was the best goal I have ever seen in my life." Against Espanyol Messi also scored a goal which was remarkably similar to Maradona's goal against England in the World Cup quarter-finals. Messi launched himself at the ball and connected with his hand to guide the ball past the goalkeeper Carlos Kameni. Despite protests by Espanyol players and replays showing it was clear handball, the goal stood.

2007–08 season

Messi takes Barça to 2-0 against Sevilla at Camp Nou on 22 September 2007
During the 2007–08 season, Messi scored five goals in a week leading Barcelona to the top four in La Liga. On 19 September he scored once as Barcelona defeated Olympique Lyonnais 3–0 at home in a Champions League match. He scored two goals against Sevilla on 22 September and then on 26 September, Messi scored another two goals in a 4–1 victory over Real Zaragoza. On 27 February, Messi played in his 100th official match for Barça against Valencia.
He was nominated for a FIFPro World XI Player Award under the category of Forward. A poll conducted in the online edition of the Spanish newspaper Marca had him as the best player in the world with 77 percent of the vote. Columnists from Barcelona-based newspapers El Mundo Deportivo and Sport stated that the Ballon d'Or should be given to Messi, a view supported by Franz Beckenbauer] Football personalities such as Francesco Totti have declared that they consider Messi to be one of the current best footballers in the world.
Messi was sidelined for six weeks following an injury on 4 March when he suffered a muscle tear in his left thigh during a Champions League match against Celtic. It was the fourth time in three seasons that Messi suffered this type of injury.

2008–09 season

Messi in a match against Deportivo
Upon Ronaldinho's departure from the club, Messi inherited his number 10 jersey. On 1 October 2008, during a Champions League match against Shakhtar Donetsk, Messi scored two goals during the last seven minutes, after coming on as a substitute for Thierry Henry, to turn the score from 1–0 to a 1–2 victory for Barcelona. The next league game was versus Atlético Madrid, a match billed as a friendly battle between Messi and his good friend Sergio Agüero. Messi scored a goal from a free kick and assisted another as Barça went on to win the match 6–1. Messi netted another impressive brace against Sevilla scoring a volley from 23 metres (25 yd) and then dribbling round the goalkeeper and scoring from a tight angle for the other. On 13 December 2008, during the first Clásico of the season, Messi scored the second goal in Barcelona's 2–0 win over Real Madrid. He was also named second in the 2008 FIFA World Player of the Year awards with 678 points.
Messi scored his first hat-trick of 2009 in a Copa del Rey tie against Atlético Madrid which Barcelona won 3–1 Messi scored another important double on 1 February 2009, coming on as a second half substitute to help Barcelona defeat Racing Santander 1–2 after being 1–0 down. The second of the two strikes was Barcelona's 5000th league goal. In the 28th round of La Liga, Messi scored his 30th goal of the season in all competitions, helping his team to a 6–0 victory over Málaga CF in the process. On 8 April 2009, he scored twice against Bayern Munich in the Champions' League, setting a personal record of nine goals in the competition. On 18 April, Messi notched his 20th league goal of the season in a 1–0 win at Getafe, allowing Barcelona to maintain their six point advantage at the top of the league table over Real Madrid.
Michael Carrick (background) watches as Lionel Messi shoots in the 2009 UEFA Champions League Final
As Barcelona's season was drawing to a close, Messi scored twice (his 35th and 36th goals in all competitions) to cap a 6–2 win over Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu in what was Real's heaviest defeat since 1930.After scoring each goal, he ran towards the fans and the cameras lifting up his Barcelona jersey and showing another T-shirt that read Síndrome X Fràgil, Catalan for Fragile X Syndrome, to show his support for children who suffer from the affliction. Messi was involved in the build-up to Andrés Iniesta's injury time goal against Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final to send Barcelona through to face Manchester United in the final. He won his first Copa del Rey on 13 May, scoring one goal and assisting another two, in a 4–1 victory over Athletic Bilbao. He helped his team win the double by winning La Liga. On 27 May he helped Barcelona win the 2009 UEFA Champions League Final by scoring a second goal in the 70th minute giving Barcelona a two goal lead; he also became the top scorer in the Champions League with nine goals. Messi also won the UEFA Club Forward of the Year: and the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year rounding off a spectacular year in Europe. This victory meant Barcelona had won the Copa del Rey, La Liga and UEFA Champions League in the one season, and was the first time a Spanish club had ever won the treble.

2009–10 season

Lionel Messi of Barcelona in action during the Joan Gamper Trophy match between Barcelona and Manchester City at the Camp Nou Stadium
After winning the 2009 UEFA Super Cup, Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola asserted that Messi was probably the best player he had ever seen.
On 18 September, Messi signed a new contract with Barcelona, running until 2016 and with a buy-out clause of €250 million included, making Messi, along with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the highest paid players in La Liga, with earnings of around €9.5 million yearly. Four days later, on 22 September, Messi scored two goals and assisted another in Barça's 4–1 win over Racing Santander in La Liga. Messi scored his first European goal of the season on 29 September in a 2–0 win over Dynamo Kyie Messi took his goal tally to six goals in seven games in La Liga with a strike during a 6–1 rout over Real Zaragoza at Camp Nou, and also scored a penalty in Barça's 4–2 win over Mallorca at the Camp Nou on 7 November. On 1 December 2009, Messi was named winner of the 2009 Ballon d'Or, beating runner-up Cristiano Ronaldo by a huge margin of 473 to 233. Afterwards, France Football magazine quoted Messi as saying: "I dedicate it to my family. They were always present when I needed them and sometimes felt even stronger emotions than me." On 19 December, Messi scored the winner in the final of the 2009 FIFA Club World Cup against Estudiantes in Abu Dhabi. Two days later, he was given the FIFA World Player of the Year award; beating Cristiano Ronaldo, Xavi, Kaká and Andrés Iniesta to the award. This was the first time he had won the award, and he became the first Argentinean to ever receive this honoure On 10 January 2010, Messi scored his first hat-trick in 2010 and his first hat-trick of the season against CD Tenerife in the 0–5 victory On 17 January, Messi scored his 100th goal for the club in the 4–0 victory over Sevilla.

International career

In June 2004, he debuted for Argentina, playing in an under-20 friendly match against Paraguay. In 2005 he was part of a team that won the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship in the Netherlands. There, he won the Golden Ball and the Golden Shoe.
He made his full international debut on 17 August 2005 against Hungary at 18 years of age. He was substituted on during the 63rd minute, but was sent off on the 65th minute because the referee, Markus Merk, found he had elbowed defender Vilmos Vanczák, who was tugging Messi's shirt. The decision was contentious and Maradona even claimed the decision was pre-meditated. Messi returned to the team on 3 September in Argentina's 1–0 World Cup qualifier away defeat to Paraguay. Ahead of the match he had said "This is a re-debut. The first one was a bit short." He then started his first game for Argentina against Peru; after the match Pekerman described Messi as "a jewel".
On 28 March 2009, in a World Cup Qualifier against Venezuela, Messi wore the Argentine number 10 jersey for the first time. This match was the first official match for Diego Maradona as the Argentina coach. Argentina won the match 4–0 with Lionel Messi opening the scoring.

2006 FIFA World Cup

The injury that kept Messi from playing for two months at the end of the 2005–06 season jeopardised his presence in the World Cup. Nevertheless, Messi was selected in the Argentina squad for the tournament on 15 May 2006. He also played in the final match before the World Cup against the Argentine U-20 team for 15 minutes and a friendly match against Angola from the 64th minute. He witnessed Argentina's opening match victory against Ivory Coast from the substitute's bench. In the next match against Serbia, Messi became the youngest player to represent Argentina at a World Cup when he came on as a substitute for Maxi Rodríguez in the 74th minute. He assisted Hernán Crespo's goal within minutes of entering the game and also scored the final goal in the 6–0 victory, making him the youngest scorer in the tournament and the sixth youngest goalscorer in the history of the World Cup. Messi started in Argentina's following 0–0 tie against the Netherlands. In the following game against Mexico, Messi came on as a substitute in the 84th minute, with the score tied at 1–1. He appeared to score a goal, but it was ruled offside with Argentina needing a late goal in extra time to proceed. Coach José Pekerman left Messi on the bench during the quarter-final match against Germany, which they lost 4–2 on a penalty shootout.

2007 Copa América

Messi at the Copa América 2007
Messi played his first game in the Copa América 2007 on 29 June 2007, when Argentina defeated United States 4–1 in the first game. In this game, he showed his capabilities as a playmaker. He set up a goal for fellow striker Hernán Crespo and had numerous shots on target. Tevez came on as a substitute for Messi in the 79th minute and scored minutes later.
His second game was against Colombia, in which he won a penalty that Crespo converted to tie the game at 1–1. He also played a part in Argentina's second goal as he was fouled outside the box, which allowed Juan Roman Riquelme to score from a freekick, and increase Argentina's lead to 3–1. The final score of the game was 4–2 in Argentina's favor and guaranteed them a spot in the tournament's quarterfinals.
In the third game, against Paraguay the coach rested Messi having already qualified for the quarter-finals. He came off the bench in place of Esteban Cambiasso in the 64th minute, with the score at 0–0. In the 79th minute he created a goal for Javier Mascherano. In the quarter-finals, as Argentina faced Peru, Messi scored the second goal of the game, from a Riquelme pass in a 4–0 win. During the semi-final match against Mexico, Messi scored a lob over Oswaldo Sánchez to see Argentina through to the final with a 3–0 win.Argentina went on to lose 3–0 to Brazil in the final.
Messi in the game against Brazil in the 2008 Olympics

2008 Summer Olympics

Having barred Messi from playing for Argentina in the 2008 Olympics,Barcelona agreed to release him after he held talks with Josep Guardiola. He joined the Argentina squad and scored the first goal in a 2–1 victory over Ivory Coast. He then scored the opening goal and assisted Ángel Di María in the second to help his side to a 2–1 extra-time win against the Netherlands. He also featured in Argentina's match against rivals Brazil, in which Argentina took a 3–0 victory, thus advancing to the final. In the gold medal match, Messi again assisted Di María for the only goal in a 1–0 victory over Nigeria.

Personal life

Messi was at one stage romantically linked to Macarena Lemos, also from his hometown of Rosario. He is said to have been introduced to her by the girl's father when he returned to Rosario to recover from his injury a few days before the start of the 2006 World Cup. He has in the past also been linked to the Argentine model, Luciana Salazar. In January 2009 he told "Hat Trick Barça", a programme on Canal 33: "I have a girlfriend and she is living in Argentina, I am relaxed and happy". He was seen with the girl, Antonella Roccuzzo, at a carnival in Sitges after the Barcelona-Espanyol derby. Roccuzzo is a fellow native of Rosario. They plan to wed near the end of 2010.
He is featured on the front cover of the video game Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 and is also involved in promotional campaigns for the game. Messi, along with Fernando Torres, is the face of Pro Evolution Soccer 2010, and was also involved in the motion capturing and the trailer. Messi is sponsored by the German sportswear company Adidas and features in their television advertisements.
Personal information
Full name Lionel Andrés Messi
Date of birth 24 June 1987 (1987-06-24) (age 22)
Place of birth Rosario, Argentina
Height 1.69 m (5 ft 7 in)
Playing position Winger / Striker
Club information
Current club Barcelona
Number 10
Youth career
1995–2000 Newell's Old Boys
2000–2004 Barcelona
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2004–2005 Barcelona B 5 (0)
2004– Barcelona 125 (69)
National team
2005 Argentina U20 7 (6)
2008 Argentina U23 5 (2)
2005– Argentina 41 (13)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 23 January 2010.
† Appearances (Goals).
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 14 November 2009
e has two cousins in football; Maxi and Emanuel Biancucchi.

Club statistics

As of 23 January 2010
Club Season League Cup Europe Club World Cup Total
Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists
Barcelona 2004–05 7 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 - - - 9 1 0
2005–06 17 6 3 2 1 0 6 1 1 - - - 25 8 4
2006–07 26 14 2 4 2 1 6 1 0 0 0 0 36 17 3
2007–08 28 10 12 3 0 0 9 6 1 - - - 40 16 13
2008–09 31 23 11 8 6 2 12 9 5 - - - 51 38 18
2009–10 16 15 7 4 3 0 6 2 1 2 2 0 28 22 8
Career totals 125 69 35 22 12 3 40 19 8 2 2 0 189 102 46

International goals

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 1 March 2006 Basel, Switzerland  Croatia 2 – 3 Loss Friendly
2 16 June 2006 Gelsenkirchen, Germany  Serbia and Montenegro 6 – 0 Win 2006 World Cup
3 5 June 2007 Barcelona, Spain  Algeria 4 – 3 Win Friendly
4 5 June 2007 Barcelona, Spain Algeria Algeria 4 – 3 Win Friendly
5 8 July 2007 Barquisimeto, Venezuela  Peru 4 – 0 Win 2007 Copa América
6 11 July 2007 Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela  Mexico 0 – 3 Win 2007 Copa América
7 16 October 2007 Maracaibo, Venezuela  Venezuela 0 – 2 Win 2010 World Cup qualifying
8 20 November 2007 Bogotá, Colombia  Colombia 2 – 1 Loss 2010 World Cup qualifying
9 4 June 2008 San Diego, United States Mexico Mexico 1 – 4 Win Friendly
10 11 October 2008 Buenos Aires, Argentina  Uruguay 2 – 1 Win 2010 World Cup qualifying
11 11 February 2009 Marseille, France  France 0 – 2 Win Friendly
12 28 March 2009 Buenos Aires, Argentina Venezuela Venezuela 4 – 0 Win 2010 World Cup qualifying
13 14 November 2009 Madrid, Spain  Spain 1 – 2 Loss Friendly



  • Spanish League (3): 2004–05, 2005–06, 2008–09
  • Spanish Cup: (1) 2008–09
  • Spanish Supercup (3): 2005, 2006, 2009
  • UEFA Champions League (2): 2005–06, 2008–09
  • UEFA Super Cup (1): 2009
  • FIFA Club World Cup (1): 2009


  • FIFA U-20 World Cup: 2005
  • Olympic Gold Medal: 2008


  • FIFA U-20 World Cup Top Scorer: 2005
  • FIFA U-20 World Cup Player of the Tournament: 2005
  • Copa América Young Player of the Tournament: 2007
  • U-21 European Footballer of the Year: 2007
  • Player of the Year of Argentina: 2005, 2007, 2009
  • FIFPro Special Young Player of the Year: 2006–2007, 2007–2008
  • FIFPro World Young Player of the Year: 2005–2006, 2006–2007, 2007–2008
  • World Soccer Young Player of the Year: 2005–2006, 2006–2007, 2007–2008
  • Premio Don Balón (Best Foreign Player in La Liga): 2006–2007, 2008–2009
  • EFE Trophy (Best Ibero-American Player in La Liga): 2006–2007, 2008–2009
  • FIFPro World XI: 2006–2007, 2007–2008, 2008–2009
  • UEFA Team of the Year: 2007–2008, 2008–2009
  • FIFA Team of the Year: 2008, 2009
  • UEFA Champions League Top Scorer: 2008–2009
  • Trofeo Alfredo Di Stéfano: 2008–2009
  • UEFA Club Forward of the Year: 2008–2009
  • UEFA Club Footballer of the Year: 2008–2009
  • LFP Best Player: 2008–2009
  • LFP Best Striker: 2008–2009
  • Onze d'Or: 2009
  • Ballon d'Or: 2009
  • World Soccer Player of the Year: 2009
  • FIFA Club World Cup Golden Ball: 2009
  • Toyota Award: 2009
  • FIFA World Player of the Year: 2009
  • FIFPro World Player of the Year: 2008–09

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