Lionel Andrés Messi is one of today’s best footballers, plays for the Spanish team Barcelona and is captain of the Argentine national team. He was born on 24 June 1987 in Rosario. Messi has had 29 years to achieve great things in football, despite all the difficulties he has had to face.
Early career and health problems
At the age of eight, Messi became a member of the Newells Old Boys club. Many international stars started their careers here. Lionel played in the youth teams and his team won the Peruvian Friendship Cup. At the same time, the young talent was of interest to representatives of the Argentine club River Plate, but they did not work with the player.
When the boy was 11 years old, his family discovered the terrible diagnosis. Messi was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. The condition made him look smaller than his peers and treatment required large sums of money. To get regular growth hormone injections, his parents had to spend at least $900 a month. The River Plate club was unable to pay this amount and refused to cooperate.
Jorge decided to take the risk to save his son and travelled to Barcelona to watch him. The national team coaches appreciated the young man’s talent and included him in the team. Carles Resac, the sports director, took care of all medical expenses. On 30 October 2000, Leo was officially registered in the youth team.
The player distinguished himself in his first game by scoring five goals. The match took place on 17 November 2003 against Porto. The match was a friendly, but journalists immediately assessed the youth team’s talent. Messi managed to score 37 goals during his time at Barcelona. Fans and journalists were impressed by the boy’s achievements, so much so that the coach of the Italian national team, Juventus, even tried to rent him for the season.
The first official match Lionel took part in, dated 16 October 2004, was against Espanyol. Barcelona won 1-0, but the goal was not scored by Messi. The player scored shortly afterwards, on 1 May 2005. The 17-year-old Leo scored a goal against Spain in the league, becoming the youngest player in the club’s history. He was invited to join the Spanish national team, but turned down a lucrative offer.
A few months later he participated in a Champions League match, but his team lost to Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine 2-0. The player received the Golden Boy award in 2005, but in the same year he suffered an injury that prevented him from participating in the final match. In 2006, Leo was drawn against Spain thanks to his hat-trick. He received second place in the Diamond Ball nomination. At the same time, Messi was nominated for third place in the FIFA Golden Ball nomination.
The following years were not good for the footballer’s career. He suffered numerous injuries, due to which the team barely managed to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League. At the same time, Lionel’s unspoken rivalry with the famous Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo began. For two years, he stole the FIFA championship from Leo, but in 2010, the athlete finally managed to overtake his rival.
World fame and other successes
2009/2010 was one of the best seasons of the Argentine’s life. He won his first Ballon d’Or and was voted best player by authoritative international journalists. On 16 January 2010, Leo scored his 100th goal. He was only 22 years old at the time and the player once again became the age record holder.
The next two seasons were also successful for Lionel. He became the first player to win three Ballon d’Or and, in 2014, the youngster signed a new contract with his club. He will receive 20 million euros per year until 2018. The athlete has appeared in advertisements for brands such as Adidas, Mirage, MasterCard, Pepsi, Lays and other manufacturers. His face has also been used in the video game Pro Evolution Soccer. Thus, the footballer is now one of the richest athletes in the world.
In his spare time, he is involved in charity work, remembering the help of the club Barcelona in his childhood. In 2007, Messi set up a charity fund to raise money for the care and education of sick children in Argentina. Three years later, this fund donated 100,000 euros to an educational programme in Mexico.
Also in 2010, the footballer was chosen as a Goodwill Ambassador by Unicef. In 2012. Leo helped cure Walid Kashash, who also suffers from a growth hormone deficiency. The following year, Messi’s foundation donated more than half a million euros for the reconstruction of a children’s hospital in Rosario.
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