- 5'6" (1.69m)
- 148 lbs (67 kg)
- June 24, 1987
- Santa Fe, Argentina
Lionel Messi is the heir apparent to the throne left vacant by Diego Armando Maradona. The waters are divided between those who consider him to be far from being the best No. 10, and those who believe that Messi will be even better than Maradona.
Born in Rosario, he cut his teeth in the youth ranks of Newell's Old Boys, until a hormonal problem that affected his growth changed the plans of his family and, of course, his personal future. Facing expensive treatment for their son, Messi's parents moved to Spain as Newell's were not able to afford the medical costs related to his condition, and even the wealthiest Argentine teams, such as River Plate, refused to foot the bill.
After his first trial with Barcelona, the Catalan coaches had no doubts. They decided to sign Messi and pay for his medical treatment. His growth was noticeable within Barca, and in little time he came to be considered one of the great talents at the club. He made his debut in the first division in October 2004, against Espanyol, and Barcelona have since adopted him as one of their greatest idols.
His first championship would come in the Liga season of 2004-05. Since then, and playing a more prominent role every season, he has won every major club trophy at Camp Nou -- including a stunning haul of six in 2008-09 -- and claimed the World Player of the Year [later the FIFA Ballon d'Or] award four times in four years.
Messi has proven his credentials on the biggest stage with goals in two of the three Champions League finals he has won with Barcelona, with his achievements leaving many in little doubt that he is the best player of his generation; possibly of all time.
That idea was given further weight in March 2012 when, at the age of 24, he became the all-time top scorer at Barcelona -- beating the 232 goals of Cesar Rodriguez.
The forward's hat-trick in Barcelona's 4-3 win over Real Madrid in March 2014 also saw him become the all-time top scorer in El Clasico clashes.
Messi endured criticism over his performances during the 2013-14 campaign despite scoring 28 goals in 31 Liga appearances as Barcelona lost the title to Atletico Madrid in a dramatic final day clash, but the forward committed his long-term future to the club with a new deal in May 2014.
Strengths: His ball skills are second to none, his runs from midfield are usually lethal and he is almost impossible to tackle when he gets his head down. His balance when running at speed is incredible.
Weaknesses: Too often he searches for a way to finish moves by himself without looking for team-mates in a better position to shoot at goal.
Career high: Winning the 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 awards for the best player in the world.
Career low: He was unable to perform to his best in the 2006 World Cup in Germany, where Argentina were eliminated in the quarter-finals with Messi looking on from the bench.
Style: Quick, incisive, balanced, a stylish runner with the ball.
Quotes: "Messi is my Maradona," said Maradona himself, as the head coach of the Argentine national team in 2010.
Trivia: His debut with the national team (against Hungary) was a disaster: he entered the game in the 18th minute of the second half, and was sent off just 47 seconds later.
|Argentina||A - Germany||Jul 13, 2014||WC||L 1-0||Started||0||0||4||0||1||2||0||0|
|Argentina||A - Netherlands||Jul 9, 2014||WC||W (2) 0-(4) 0||Started||0||0||1||1||1||3||0||0|
|Argentina||H - Belgium||Jul 5, 2014||WC||W 1-0||Started||0||0||2||1||3||2||0||0|
|Argentina||H - Switzerland||Jul 1, 2014||WC||W 1-0||Started||0||1||2||1||0||5||0||0|
|Argentina||A - Nigeria||Jun 25, 2014||WC||W 2-3||Sub-Off 62.0 min||2||0||4||3||0||3||0||0|
|Argentina||H - Iran||Jun 21, 2014||WC||W 1-0||Started||1||0||6||3||0||1||0||0|
|Argentina||H - Bosnia-Herz||Jun 15, 2014||WC||W 2-1||Started||1||0||3||1||1||2||0||0|