The first player ever to win five Ballon d’Or trophies, Lionel Messi is one of the best players ever to grace the world of football. His exceptional talent, his playing style, his technique has always come in handy for whichever team he has played for.
Signed by FC Barcelona at just the age of 13, Messi has stayed and achieved great things with his club. He is currently the captain of his National team, as well as of FC Barcelona. His performance at the ground just might be the make or break moment of the Argentinian National Team in the upcoming World Cup.
The following are some awesome facts regarding the living legend, Lionel Messi.
Top Facts about Messi
1- His full name is Luis Lionel Andres Messi.
2- He was born on June 24, 1987 in Rosario, Argentina.
3- Messi’s father, Jorge, was a steelworker who also coached the local youth football team.
4- Messi was diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency, which was stopping his normal growth rate at a tender age of 11. His parents couldn’t afford his treatment of $900 per month.
5- Because his father’s medical insurance could only cover two years of treatment, Messi’s father started looking for alternatives. He was scouted by Buenos Aires club, River Plate, but they couldn’t afford his treatment as well.
6- Through their relatives in Catalonia, Messi’s family arranged a trial with Barcelona in September 2000. The first team director was so impressed that he sought to sign him immediately. Having no paper at hand, he wrote Messi’s first contract on a paper-napkin.
7- Because he was foreign, Messi wasn’t allowed to participate in the official youth team matches in his first year.
8- Messi was so reserved that his teammates initially thought he was mute.
9- Messi suffered from homesickness after his mother left for Argentina. He stayed with his father in Barcelona.
10- Arsene Wenger claims that after he successfully signed Fabregas, he tried to sign Messi when he was still young. The deal couldn’t succeed to his regret because Messi wasn’t willing to leave his club.
11- Messi was part of the “Baby Dream Team,” which was Barcelona’s greatest ever youth side.
12- During his first full season with that team (2002-03), Messi was the top scorer with 36 goals in 30 games.
13- Messi was pursued by the Royal Spanish Football Federation to join the Spanish Football Team. Messi declined the offer. To stop further pursuits, the Argentine Football Association organized two under-20 friendlies just so that they can finalize Messi’s status as an Argentine player in FIFA.
14- In the Copa Catalunya, Messi started on condition that he’ll wear a plastic protector mask to cover his broken cheekbone. After feeling uncomfortable, Messi took off the mask and scored 2 goals in 10 minutes before getting substituted.
15- Messi made his debut for Barcelona against RCD Espanyol at age 17. He became the third-youngest player to start for Barcelona and the youngest ever to score for the club.
16- After his first training session, Ronaldinho recognized the greatness of Messi and told his teammates that he’ll be even better than himself. He soon befriended Messi and called him his “little brother.”
17- Messi saved Juveniles A from relegation when he scored five goals in ten games, which includes a hat-trick scored in a Copa Del Rey match while being man-marked by Sevilla’s Sergio Ramos.
18- Messi’s first senior goal was assisted by Ronaldinho.
19- On his 18th birthday, Messi signed his first contract as a senior team player. He had a buy-out clause of €150 million and the contract extended until 2010.
20- After his incredible performance against Juventus, Fabio Capello, the then-Juventus coach, requested to loan Messi.
21- After Capello’s request, Inter Milan made a bid to buy Messi. They were willing to pay his €150 million release clause and triple his wages. According to the then-president Joan Laporta, it was the only time when the club faced a real risk of losing Messi. He ultimately decided to stay at Barcelona.
22- Because of an injury, Messi was ruled out from the 2006 UEFA Champions League final which Barcelona won against Arsenal in Paris. He was so disappointed that he did not celebrate that Champions League victory, something he later came to regret.
23- In the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, Messi became the youngest player to represent Argentina in this competition.
24- In his debut match, Messi became the sixth youngest player to score in FIFA World Cup.
25- On March 10, 2007, Messi scored his first hat-trick in an El-Clasico, the first player to do so in 12 years. His goals equalized those of Real Madrid and the match ended in a 3-3 draw in extra time.
26- Messi replicated two of Maradona’s most famous goals in a span of three weeks. In the Copa Del Rey semi-final, he scored a goal similar to Maradona’s 1986 FIFA World Cup goal which is known as the Goal of the Century. He scored another in a similar fashion to Maradona’s “Hand of god” goal against Espanyol in a league fixture.
27- At just 20 years old, Messi received the nickname of “Messiah” from the Spanish media after his incredible performances.
28- Upon Ronaldinho’s departure in 2008, Messi was given the iconic number 10 shirt.
29- Initially, Messi was barred by Barcelona from playing in the 2008 Summer Olympics as it coincided with Barcelona’s UEFA Champions League qualifiers. After interference from Pep Guardiola, he was allowed to play. Argentina went on to win the Olympic Gold Medals that year.
30- Because of his injury issues, Messi was given new training, nutrition, and lifestyle regimens. He was even assigned a personal physiotherapist who would travel with him during call-ups for the Argentinian national team.
31- Messi scored twice in the El-Clasico on May 2, 2009. The match ended in an emphatic 6-2 victory for Barcelona. This was the team’s greatest ever score at the Santiago Bernabeu.
32- Messi played his first final against Athletic Bilbao in the Copa Del Rey. His goal and assist won Barcelona the fixture 4-1. Barcelona became La Liga champions three days later, largely because of Messi’s performances.
33- Messi finished off his season as the Champion of Europe, when his side beat Manchester United 2-0 in the Champions League final. Messi scored from a header in this match. Barcelona thus achieved the first ever treble in the Spanish football history.
34- Barcelona completed their Quadruple after winning the Supercopa de Espana, UEFA Super Cup, and FIFA Club World Cup. Because of these incredible achievements, a 22-year-old Messi won his first Ballon d’Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year award, both times by the greatest voting margin in each trophy’s history.
35- Messi scored a total of 47 goals in all competitions in the 2009-10 campaign, equaling Ronaldo’s club record from the 1996-97 campaign.
36- Messi scored 4 times in the Champions League quarter-final against Arsenal, and became Barcelona’s all-time top-scorer in the competition.
37- Messi scored 8 goals in the 2009-10 Champions League, finishing as the top-scorer for the second consecutive time. He scored 34 goals in La Liga, winning the league for his team.
38- Messi wore Argentina’s captain arm-band for the first time against Greece in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
39- Messi scored his first hat-trick of the 2010-11 campaign in the Supercopa de Espana against Sevilla, winning another trophy for his team.
40- He was incredibly prolific in the 5-0 thrashing of Real Madrid in the El-Clasico, which was Jose Mourinho’s first as in charge of Real Madrid.
41- Messi helped Barcelona achieve 16 consecutive league victories, a record in Spanish football. He concluded with it with another hat-trick against Atletico Madrid on February 5, 2011.
42- He won the inaugural FIFA Ballon d’Or (an amalgamation of the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year) in 2010, though this was met with some criticism because of his lack of success with Argentina in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. In the old format, he would’ve been placed outside the top three, as the win depended on votes given from international coaches and captains.
43- At the end of the season, Barcelona played four Clasicos in a span of 18 days. This included two UEFA Champions League Semi-Final fixtures, a Copa del Rey final, and a La Liga fixture. Thanks to a penalty from Messi, Barcelona drew the La Liga match. After losing the Copa del Rey Final to Real Madrid, Messi scored twice in the Champions League semi-final first leg. His dribble past three players was acclaimed as one of the best ever in the competition. He was also instrumental in the second-leg match, from where they qualified for the Champions League Final.
44- The 2011 Champions League Final between Barcelona and Manchester United was a repeat of the one that happened two years earlier. Messi scored the match-winning goal and won his team the final 3-1 at Wembley.
45- Messi finished the campaign as the Champions League top scorer with 12 goals, as well as 53 goals and 24 assists in all competitions, becoming Barcelona’s all-time single-season top scorer, and the first player in Spanish football to reach the 50-goal benchmark.
46- Messi scored an unprecedented 73 goals and provided 29 assists in all competitions during the 2011-12 campaign. He produced a hat-trick on more than 10 occasions that season.
47- Messi was appointed captain of the Argentina National team in August 2011.
48- Messi scored three times in the 5-4 aggregate victory over Real Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana. He went on to win both the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup, earning the Golden Ball as the best player in that tournament.
49- Messi won his third FIFA Ballon d’Or in 2011, becoming only the fourth player in history to win the Ballon d’Or three times.
50- He also won the inaugural UEFA Best Player in Europe award.
51- Messi became the first player to score five goals in a single Champions League fixture, doing it against Bayer Leverkusen in the Round-of-16 match on March 7, 2012.
52- Messi scored 14 goals in the 2011-12 Champions League campaign, not only tying with José Altafini’s record from the 1962–63 season, but also tying with Gerd Muller’s record of being top scorer in four campaigns.
53- Messi became the all-time top goal scorer in Barcelona’s history, overtaking the 57-year old record of Cesar Rodriguez. He was just 24 years old at the time.
54- Messi’s 73 goals in all competitions surpassed Gerd Müller’s 67 goals in the 1972–73 Bundesliga season, making him the single-season top scorer in the history of European club football.
55- Messi sent Müller a number 10 Barcelona t-shirt signed “with respect and admiration” after breaking his 40-year old record.
56- He received the Guinness World Records title for most goals scored in a calendar year.
57- At the end of 2012, Messi won the FIFA Ballon d’Or for a record fourth time, becoming the first ever player to do so. This was his fourth consecutive win
58- Messi wore the captain armband for the first time on February 7, 2013, in a league fixture against Rayo Vallecano.
59- Because of Barcelona’s poor form throughout the time when Messi was injured in 2013, the term “Messidependencia” was created to outline how important he was for the team.
60- A hat-trick against Real Madrid in the second-half of the 2013-14 season made Messi the top scorer in all El Clasicos after breaking Di Stefano’s record of 18 goals.
61- Messi signed a new contract on May 19, 2014, which increased his salary to €36 million before taxes, the highest wage ever in the sport.
62- In his first World Cup as captain, Messi led the Argentina team to the final, which they lost against Germany
63- In the conclusion of the tournament, Messi was awarded the Golden ball as the best player of the tournament. Coupled with being the joint third-highest goal scorer, this was a good campaign overall for Messi.
64- Messi became the all-time top-scorer of La Liga on November 22, 2014, when he scored a hat-trick against Sevilla.
65- Three days later, Messi scored another hat-trick against APOEL, which made him the all-time top-scorer of the Champions League after overtaking Raul’s 71 goals.
66- The MSN trio of Messi, Suarez, and Neymar scored a total of 122 goals in all competitions, including 58 goals from Messi, in the 2014-15 season which is a record in Spanish football.
67- Messi scored his fastest hat-trick in 11 minutes against Rayo Vallecano on March 8. This was also his 32nd hat-trick for Barcelona, which is a record in Spanish football.
68- Messi’s second goal against Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final was named the best goal of the season by UEFA. It was also the most tweeted sporting moment of the year. Messi’s dribble past Jerome Boateng made the defender fall on the ground after which he chipped the ball over Manuel Neuer to score.
69- For his incredible performances during the campaign, Messi was awarded the UEFA Best Player in Europe award for a second time.
70- On September 16, 2015, Messi became the youngest player to make 100 appearances in the UEFA Champions League.
71- On January 11, 2016, Messi won the FIFA Ballon d’Or for a record fifth time.
72- In a league match against Celta de Vigo, Messi took the penalty but instead of scoring, he assisted Luis Suarez who scored from that position.
73- Messi, Suarez, and Neymar broke their own record from last season and scored 131 goals throughout the 2015-16 season, which is a Spanish record.
74- In the Copa America final against Chile, Messi missed his penalty in the shootout after which Chile won the final. Messi announced retirement from the National team after the final.
75- A few days after his retirement, Messi reversed his decision after a huge campaign from the Argentina supporters for him to return to the National Team.
76- Messi is currently Barcelona’s all-time top-scorer from free kicks.
77- Messi has won 4 Golden Boots in his career.
78- Messi is the fastest player to score 100 goals in the UEFA Champions League.
79- Messi secured World Cup qualification for Argentina after scoring a hat-trick against Ecuador in the difficult conditions of Quito. This was Argentina’s final chance to qualify for the FIFA World Cup.
80- Messi appeared consecutively on EA’s FIFA series, appearing from FIFA 13 to FIFA 16.
81- He also appeared on PES cover from 2009 till 2011.
82- Messi has been in relationship with Antonella Roccuzzo since 2008, when he was 20 years old. Roccuzzo is the cousin of Messi’s childhood friend, and they’ve known each other since age 5. Messi and Roccuzzo are now married and have three sons together.
Messi is a living legend who is still playing top level football. While he continues to break more records, we’ll keep adding them to this list as they happen.