My name is Lionel Andres Messi and I was born on 24 June 1987 south of Argentina. Presently, I play as a right forward for FC Barcelona (Barca) and for the Argentinian National Team. I have dual citizenship, Argentinian and Spanish, as I completed the two-year Spanish residency requirements in 2005. They call me Leo, Lio or La Pulga, but the one I am most used to is Leo.
Messi 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.
"My family has told me that from a very early age, when I was learning to walk, I had a passion for the ball. Clearly, I don’t remember that, but it’s not hard to imagine myself running after a ball."
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.
Move to Barcelona and Normal life.
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.
"I had to undergo special treatment in order to have a normal rate of growth. I always remember that every night I would sit on my bed and have injections in my legs. It wasn’t fun, I can assure you, but I wanted to become a footballer so much that it was worth it. The problem was that the treatment was very expensive and my family couldn’t afford it. Mum and Dad tried everything and I will always be grateful for that. In the end, it seemed like the solution was in Spain, in Lerida, where some of our relatives live. My Dad was offered a job and, at the same time, it was my chance to go for a trial with Barca."
Early Club Life.
Messi 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. 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.
In the 2006–07 season, Messi established himself as a regular first team player, scoring 14 times in 26 matches.
Messidona and the hand of God.
Against RCD Espanyol Messi also scored a goal which was remarkably similar to Maradona's 'Hand of God' 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.
Messi also proved the "New Maradona" tag was not all hype, by nearly 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 CF, one of which was very similar to Maradona's famous goal against England at the 1986 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 (203 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.
Start of Greatness.
On 27 February, 2008 Messi played in his 100th official match for Barcelona against Valencia CF. Messi finished third in the 2007 Ballon d'Or, behind Kaká and Cristiano Ronaldo, and finished second in the 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year award, once again behind Kaká. He also came in third in the IFFHS World's Best Playmaker Award, once again behind Kaká and Andrea Pirlo.
Upon Ronaldinho's departure from the club, Messi inherited his number 10 jersey. During this season he placed second in the 2008 FIFA World Player of the Year awards with 678 points and third in the 2008 IFFHS World's Best Playmaker Award for the second consecutive year. Messi scored his first hat-trick of 2009 in a Copa del Rey tie against Atlético Madrid which Barcelona won 3–1.
True Champion in the making.
On 27 May, 2009 he helped Barcelona win the Champions League 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, the youngest in the tournament's history, 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 Champions League in the one season, and was the first time a Spanish club had ever won the treble.
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, the highest paid players in La Liga, with earnings of around €9.5 million yearly.
Messi was named winner of the 2009 Ballon d'Or on 1 December 2009, beating runner-up Cristiano Ronaldo by largest ever margin of 473 to 233. He also placed 2nd in the 2009 IFFHS World's Best Playmaker Award.
On 6 April 2010, for the first time in Messi's career he scored four goals in a single match, netting the lot in a 4–1 home win over Arsenal in the Champions League quarter-final second leg. This also saw him overtake Rivaldo as Barcelona's all time greatest scorer in the competition.
In the 2011-12 season, After scoring his first goal of an eventual hat-trick in an 8–0 rout against CA Osasuna, Messi produced a special celebration for Soufian, a 10-year-old Moroccan boy with Laurin Sandrow syndrome, a rare medical condition that can eventually lead to the loss of the lower extremities. Whilst Messi usually points to the sky after scoring a goal, Messi slapped his thighs as a dedication to Soufian.
The Greatest Football Player ever.
Messi won the 2011 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award, beating his FC Barcelona team-mate Xavi Hernández and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo. Messi won the 2011 FIFA Ballon d'Or, again beating his team-mate Xavi and Cristiano Ronaldo. By winning the FIFA Ballon d'Or again, Messi become the fourth player to win three Ballon d'Ors.
On 19 February 2012, Messi, on his 200th La Liga appearance, scored four goals against Valencia CF in a 5–1 win. On 7 March, Messi became the first player to score five goals in an UEFA Champions League match since the tournament's re-establishment in 1992, helping the defending champions Barcelona win 7–1 against Bayer Leverkusen.
On 20 March, Messi scored three goals against Granada, making him FC Barcelona's leading goalscorer in official competitions, surpassing club legend César Rodríguez, who had previously held the record with 232.
On 9 December, Messi scored twice against Real Betis, his 85th and 86th goals in 2012, surpassing Müller's milestone of 85 goals scored in a calendar year in 1972 with Bayern Munich and the German national team, as well as surpassing Rodríguez's record for most league goals for Barcelona. On 12 December, Messi increased his record to 88, after scoring twice against Córdoba CF in the first leg of a Copa del Rey game. Messi then sent an autographed Barcelona shirt to Müller in acknowledgement of beating his record. On 16 December, Messi scored twice in a 4–1 Barcelona victory against Atlético Madrid, increasing his record to 90 goals. The tally found its end at 91 goals in a year after Messi scored once against Real Valladolid.
On 7 January 2013 odds-on favourite Messi won the 2012 FIFA Ballon d'Or, again In doing this, Messi became the only player in history to win the Ballon d'Or four times. On 16 February 2013, Messi scored his 300th Barcelona goal the La Liga match against Granada CF, later scoring again in the match to bring his tally to 301 goals in 365 official matches.
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 t.he past also been linked to the Argentine glamour 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"
On 2 June 2012, he celebrated scoring his 23rd goal for Argentina, by placing the ball under his jersey, as his girlfriend is reportedly 12 weeks pregnant. On 2 November 2012, Messi became a father for the first time following the birth of his son Thiago.
Charity and Wealth.
In 2007, Messi established the Leo Messi Foundation, a charity supporting access to education and health care for vulnerable children. In response to Messi's own childhood medical difficulties, the Leo Messi Foundation has offered Argentine children diagnosed with illnesses treatment in Spain and funds covering the transport, hospital and recuperation costs. Messi's foundation is supported by his own fundraising activity with additional assistance from Herbalife.
In March 2010, France Football ranked him at the top of its list of the world's richest footballers, ahead of David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo, with £29.6 million (€33 million) in combined income from salaries, bonuses and off-field earnings. His net wealth is estimated at $110 millIon.