Lionel Andrés “Leo” Messi is an Argentine football player born in 1987. He currently plays for FC Barcelona and he is also the team captain for the Argentine national team. Messi is known world-wide for his goal scoring abilities, and his style of play has often been compared to that of Diego Maradona.
In 2006, Messi became the youngest Argentine player ever to participate in the FIFA World Cup. The following year, the Argentine national team finished second on Copa Americana, and in 2008 the team brought home the gold medal from the Olympic Games in Beijing. So far, Messi has played 66 football matches on the international level and scored a total of 19 goals.
Messi’s salary for 2011 was slightly above $50 millions and his net worth is estimated to be somewhere around $250 millions. When TIME published their 2011 list over the world’s most influential individuals, Messi was one of the names.
Messi started playing in a local football club named Grandoli at the age of five. In 1995 he joined Newell’s Old Boys in his home town Rosario.
When he was 11 years old Messi was diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency. Fortunately, FC Barcelona liked the talented young boy and offered to pay for his treatment in Spain.
Messi premiered in FC Barcelona during the 2004/2005 season and scored his first league goal for them at a record breaking young age. That season, FC Barcelona won La Liga, and the following season the team won both La Liga and Champions League. During the 2006/2007 season Messi completed a hat-trick in El Clásico and managed to score 14 goals over the course of 26 games. During the 2008/2009 season, he scored 38 goals and helped his team secure three prestigious trophy’s. During the 2009/2010 season, Messi scored 47 goals, thus reaching Ronaldo’s old record for FC Barcelona. During the 2010/2011 season Messi broke Ronaldo’s record by scoring a total of 53 goals. During Messi’s time in FC Barcelona, the team has won La Liga five times and Champions League three times.
- Lionel Andrés Messi was born in Rosario in the Argentine province of Santa Fe in 1987.
- His father Jorge Horacio Messi was a factory worker while his mother Celia María Cuccittini worked part-time as a cleaning lady.
- On his father’s side, Messi can trace his ancestry back to Angelo Messi who migrated to Argentina from Ancona in Italy in 1883.
- Messi has two older brothers, Rodrigo and Matias, and a sister named Maria Sol.
- Messi has two football playing cousins. Maxi Biancucchi plays for Club Olimpia in Paraguay, while Emanuel Biancucchi is a center fielder in Girona FC in Spain.
- When Messi was 11 years old he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency and needed a costly ($900/month) treatment. His relatives in Lleida in Catalonia arranged a meeting between the young promising footballer and FC Barcelona’s chief of sport Carles Rexach which resulted in FC Barcelona offering Messi a contract and medical treatment in Spain. Messi moved to Spain with his father and joined the FC Barcelona Youth Academy.
- In 2007, Messi established the Leo Messi Foundation which gives vulnerable children access to education and health care. Among other things, Argentine children in need of advanced medical treatment in Spain can receive financial aid from the foundation.
- Messi is a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF and works with supporting the rights of children world-wide.