What nationality is messi ? Who is Lionel Messi? Considered one of the greatest footballers of all time, the Argentine has journeyed from Rosario, Argentina, through Barcelona, PSG and the attention of a global public.
Who is Lionel Messi?
Lionel Messi is a footballer who has become a global icon and has been argued as one of, if not the greatest football player to have ever played the game. He was born in Argentina in 1987, but left for Spain aged 13 to join Barcelona’s famed La Masia (de Can Planes) youth academy. In a career that has lasted 19 years so far, Messi has played over 800 club games and scored 700 goals. He is a hero to Argentinean football fans, Barcelona FC fans and many other lovers of the sport.
Lionel Messi was born in Rosario, Sante Fe in Argentina on 24 June 1987 to parents Jorge and Celia. He was the third of four children, and grew up in a football-loving family, spending hours each day playing football with his older brothers Rodrigo andMatías, and regularly played with his cousinsMaximiliano and Emanuel Biancucchi, both of whom went on to become professional footballers.
He joined prominent Argentine football club Newell’s Old Boys at the age of 6, and stayed with the side until his move to Barcelona at 13. With Newell’s, Lionel was part of a near-unbeatable youth side nicknamed “The Machine of 87′” and Messi would score almost 500 goals for them in the youth stages. He was phenomenally skilled and his talent would be displayed at half-time of the first team’s home matches, where he would perform tricks and skills to entertain the fans.
At the age of 10, he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. He would need treatment to get over the illness and continue his football career. Originally, his club Newell’s Old Boys had promised to help pay for the treatment, which would cost around $1,000 per month. They later changed their mind, so the Messi family looked to other clubs to help them.
Moving to Barcelona
Lionel’s family had relatives in Catalonia, where Barcelona are based, and trials were arranged for the young Argentine at the club. He impressed immediately, but whilst the first team director Charly Rexach was desperate to sign the young Messi, the board of directors at the club were not so sure. It was incredibly uncommon for European clubs to bring in foreign players at this age, and they were concerned he was too young to move from his home and join the club.
Eventually, after many months, the family left Barcelona with an ultimatum: sign him now or not at all. The bargaining worked, and in February of 2001, the family moved to Barcelona.
When he was finally allowed to register fully with the team and play in all their games, Messi started to settle. He made friends with teammates like Gerard Pique and Cesc Fabregas – both of whom went on to win the Men’s World Cup with Spain – and completed his growth hormone treatment at 14.
In his first full season in youth football in Spain (2002-03), Messi scored 36 goals in 30 games, helping his team win an unprecedented league and cup treble.
Becoming a superstar
Messi raced through the youth teams of the Barcelona setup, debuting for a record five different youth teams in a single league year during the 2003-04 season. He would soon impress the first team when, at only 16 years old, he made his debut in a friendly against Porto. His teammates and coaches were so impressed, he was quickly moved to the Barcelona C side to play men’s football, whilst still appearing in the youth teams.
He would also train with the Barcelona B side, and had weekly training sessions with the first team. Messi was so impressive, Barcelona’s star player (and the best player in the world, at the time) Ronaldinho would befriend the little Argentine, telling teammates that Messi would become the best player in the world.
It was in the 2004-05 season that Messi really left his mark on the first team. The coach Frank Rijkaard as implored by several senior players to promote Messi to the senior side to join them, and he made his league debut in the next match, coming on as a substitute in a match against Espanyol. It made Messi the youngest player to represent Barcelona in a senior professional match, aged just 17 years, three months and 22 days old.
In May of that season, Messi became the younger ever goalscorer for Barcelona, scoring his first senior goal against Albacete on 1 May 2005. Barcelona would win the league title that season.
In the next season, 2005-06, Messi established himself as a regular starter for Barcelona, forming an attacking partnership with global stars Samuel Eto’o and Ronaldinho.
The 2006-07 season made Messi into a real superstar.
In a season that was plagued by injuries, Messi would score 17 goals in 36 games across all competitions. But as the season approached its end, Messi would come alive. He scored 11 of his 14 goals in La Liga in the last 13 games of the season.
On top of this, a star was truly born on the global stage when Messi scored his first hat-trick in aClásico (El Clásicois the name given to the match between Barcelona and Real Madrid, two of the world’s most fierce rivals), becoming the first player to score three goals in aClásicofor 12 years.
2007 was another season with niggling injuries that limited Messi’s brilliance, but he was still voted third in the2007 Ballon d’Or, an annual vote to decide the world’s best footballer.
Over the next 14 years, Messi would win personal honours, a staggering amount of club competitions and break records for fun.
Messi for Argentina
Messi has played for Argentina during a period where they have struggled to make an impact on the world stage. The country has won the Men’s World Cup twice, and striving for to win a Men’s World Cup for his country has been Messi’s most difficult sporting challenge.
As an Argentinean star, Messi has lived with comparisons to footballing icon Diego Maradona for most of his life. Maradona is another who is often argued to be the greatest footballer of all time, and often the debate will end with Maradona vs Messi.
Whilst Maradona did lead his country to Men’s Men’s World Cup glory, Messi never has. The closest he came was 2014, where Argentina met Germany in the final, a repeat of the 1990 Men’s World Cup final. Unfortunately for Messi and Argentina, his side lost 1-0 in extra-time.
The pain of this defeat was only worsened as Argentina lost the final of the 2015 Copa America the year after. Argentina had not won a trophy since 1993, and the Argentine media and fans began to intensely criticise both Messi and the Argentina side.
A year later, in theCopa América Centenario that marked 100 years of CONMEBOL and the Copa America, Messi would miss a penalty in another losing final to Chile. At this point, Messi announced his retirement from international football.
This was met with anguish in his home country, where even the President of Argentina Mauricio Macri pleaded with the superstar to reverse his decision. After fans marched in the streets and the country urged him to reconsider, a week later the decision was reversed and Messi announced he had made an emotional decision, but one he felt was wrong.
After another failure to win a Copa America in 2019, Argentina finally ended their drought in 2021. They beat hosts Brazil 1-0 in the final, which gave Argentina their first trophy since 1993, and Messi his first international title. He had scored four and assisted five of the 12 goals scored by Argentina at the tournament.
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