Often considered the best player in the world and rated by many in the sport as the greatest of all time
Lionel Andrés "Leo" Messi is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a forward for Spanish club FC Barcelona and the Argentina national team. Often considered the best player in the world and rated by many in the sport as the greatest of all time, Messi is the only football player in history to win five FIFA Ballons d'Or, four of which he won consecutively, and the first player to win three European Golden Shoes. With Barcelona he has won eight La Liga titles and four UEFA Champions League titles, as well as four Copas del Rey. Both a prolific goalscorer and a creative playmaker, Messi holds the records for most goals scored in La Liga, a La Liga season (50), a football season (82), and a calendar year (91), as well as those for most assists made in La Liga and the Copa América. He has scored over 500 senior career goals for club and country.
Lionel Andrés Messi was born on 24 June 1987 in Rosario, his father was a steel factory manager, and his mother worked in a magnet manufacturing workshop. Being born in a football-loving family "Leo" developed a passion for the sport from an early age, playing constantly with his older brothers and cousins. At four years, he joined local club Grandoli, where he was coached by his father, though his earliest influence as a player came from his maternal grandmother, who accompanied him to training and matches. Life as many challenges Leo's grandma died just before his 11th birthday and it deeply affected him, and ever since then he has celebrated his goals by looking up and pointing to the sky in tribute of his maternal grandmother.
In early years Leo's physical appearance mismatched the extraordinary football talent he has. This is what his Newell's Old Boys youth coach shared his first impression of the 12 year-old Messi:
"When you saw him you would think: this kid can't play ball. He's a dwarf, he's too fragile, too small. But immediately you'd realise that he was born different, that he was a phenomenon and that he was going to be something impressive."
At an age of six years Messi joined Newell's Old Boys, and he played for them for six. He scored more than 400 goals as a member of "The Machine of '87", the near-unbeatable youth side named for the year of their birth. Besides playing for the Newell's, Messi regularly entertained crowds by performing ball tricks during half-time of the first team's home games. However, Leo's future as a professional player got some setback when he was 10 years, he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. Like most parents Messi's parents had financial issues. His father health insurance managed to cover only two years of growth hormone treatment, which costed at least $1,000 per month, the Newell's agreed to contribute, but later reneged on their promise. During that time, Messi was scouted by Buenos Aires club River Plate, whose playmaker, Pablo Aimar, he idolised, but they were also unable to pay for his treatment due to the country's economic collapse. All the above setbacks did not hinder Messi's focus on his career.
Since Messi's family had relatives in Catalonia, they sought to arrange a trial with Barcelona FC in September of 2000. The first team director Charly Rexach was impressed by his astonishing talent and he immediately wanted to sign him, but the board of directors hesitated; at the time it was highly unusual for European clubs to sign foreign players of such a young age. On 14 December, an ultimatum was issued for Barcelona to prove their commitment, and Rexach, with no other paper at hand, offered a contract on a paper napkin. In February 2001, the family relocated to Barcelona. His first year at Barcelona he rarely played with the Infantiles due to a transfer conflict with Newell's; as a foreigner, he could only be fielded in friendlies and the Catalan league. Without football, he struggled to integrate into the team; already reserved by nature, he was so quiet that his teammates initially believed he was mute. At home, he suffered from homesickness after his mother moved back to Rosario with his brothers and little sister, while he stayed in Barcelona with his father.
After a year at Barcelona's youth academy, La Masia, Messi was finally enrolled in the Royal Spanish Football Federation in February 2002. Now playing in all competitions, he befriended his teammates, among whom were Cesc Fàbregas and Gerard Piqué. After completing his growth hormone treatment aged 14, Messi became an integral part of the "Baby Dream Team", Barcelona's greatest-ever youth side. During his first full season, in 2002–03, he was top scorer with 36 goals in 30 games for the Cadetes A, who won an unprecedented treble of the league and both the Spanish and Catalan cups. The Copa Catalunya final, a 4–1 victory over Espanyol, became known in club lore as the partido de la máscara, the final of the mask. A week after suffering a broken cheekbone during a league match, Messi was allowed to start the game on the condition that he wear a plastic protector; soon hindered by the mask, he took it off and scored two goals in 10 minutes before his substitution. At the close of the season, he received an offer to join Arsenal, his first from a foreign club, but while his close friends decided to leave for England, he chose to remain in Barcelona. From that time up to date Messi has set and broken many records in football fraternity. Though he had a questionable beginning Leo has turned out to be one of the best footballers the world has ever seen. Follow the link for More information about his achievements in the game of football. Source: Wikipedia Click to read more about Messi