Lionel Andrés Messi, also known as Leo Messi, is an Argentinian footballer currently playing for the Barcelona football club and the Argentine national team. He has won FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) world player of the year five times in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015. Messi is widely considered one of the best footballers of his generation and the world’s best contemporary player.
Lionel Messi was born in Rosario, Argentina on June 24, 1987, in a family of six and was recruited by the youth academy of Newell’s Old Boys, a football club based in Rosario, at the age of 8. Unfortunately, Messi was later diagnosed with a hormone deficiency disease that restricted his growth. As a result, he had to get very expensive growth hormone injections daily, which eventually proved difficult for the parents to afford.
Luckily and through his impressive football skills, at 13 years old, Lionel Messi signed with Barcelona football club and relocated with his family to Spain, as the club agreed to cater for his hormone treatments, which was included in his contract.
Leo scored 21 goals in 14 games for Barcelona’s under-14 team and quickly advanced through to the higher-level teams until he had his informal debut with Barcelona FC in a friendly match at the age of 16. Over the next few years, Leo Messi continually broke records after records and emerged as a top-class player for Barcelona and the entire world. Moreover, in the 2011–2012 season, he set the Spanish and European records by landing the most goals scored in a single season while also establishing himself as Barcelona’s all-time top scorer in official competitions.
Lionel Messi’s brilliance in the field has been lauded by the world, evident through the many awards, achievements and honors that he has been bestowed with. He is often described as Diego Maradona’s successor because of his prolific goal-scoring records and the ability to dribble past his opponents.
Off the field, this Argentine left-footed star is actively involved in charity works aimed at helping vulnerable children and partly in response to his own medical complications as a child.
Aside from his collaboration with UNICEF and personally as a goodwill ambassador, Messi also runs the Leo Messi Foundation, which supports children in health care, sports and education. He is married to fellow Rosario native Antonela Roccuzzo and is blessed with three sons: Thiago, Mateo and Ciro.