13 fun facts about Lionel Messi

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Lionel Messi
Everything you need to know about the Argentine superstar!

Lionel Messi is one of the most iconic figures in football history. Born in Argentina in 1987, Messi began playing football at a young age and quickly developed a reputation as a prodigious talent.

He joined FC Barcelona's youth academy in 2000 at 13, and just three years later, he made his debut for the first team. In the years that followed, Messi quickly established himself as one of the greatest players of his generation.

He has won numerous individual awards, including a record seven Ballon d'Or trophies, and helped Barcelona win multiple titles, including four Champions League titles and 10 La Liga titles.

Despite his success on the pitch, Messi has faced numerous challenges throughout his career. He was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency as a child, which required expensive treatment and put a strain on his family's finances.

In 2021, he won his first major international trophy, guiding Argentina to a Copa America triumph. He helped his country lift their third World Cup title in Qatar a year later.

Off the pitch, Messi is known for his philanthropic work. He has established the Leo Messi Foundation, which aims to improve the lives of children in need worldwide. He has also been involved in numerous charitable initiatives, including a project to build a children's hospital in his hometown of Rosario, Argentina.

But what are the 13 things you need to know about the attacker?

  1. A loving grandson
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    A loving grandson

    The sight of Messi pointing toward the sky with both hands after scoring a goal is a regular occurrence, but not many people know its meaning. It is, in fact, a tribute to his Grandmother Celia, who Messi credits with sparking his interest in football and supporting him as he took his first steps in the game. Sadly, she passed away in 1998 and never saw him play at the top level, but his iconic celebration ensures that her spirit lives on.

  2. Could have won the World Cup in 2010

    Could have won the World Cup in 2010

    Messi has represented Argentina throughout his international career, but he could have been wearing the red of Spain had he accepted an offer to join the national team of the country where he had spent 17 years of his professional career. After spending his childhood in Barcelona, he was eligible to play for the 2010 world champions, but Messi says the idea never crossed his mind. The rest, as they say, is history as he has gone on to become Argentina’s all-time top scorer.

  3. Idolised an Argentina legend
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    Idolised an Argentina legend

    Many younger players consider Messi a role model, but whom did he idolise growing up? His idol was fellow Argentina and former Valencia and Real Zaragoza playmaker Pablo Aimar. They faced each other in La Liga on several occasions, including one special night in 2004 when Aimar approached the 17-year-old Messi, an unused sub, after the game to offer him his shirt. He still treasures that jersey to this day. Aimar was also part of Argentina’s 2022 World Cup-winning team. He was an assistant to head coach Lionel Scaloni.

  4. A nightmare debut for Argentina

    Argentina's blue-eyed boy Messi made his international debut on August 17, 2005, in an international friendly match against Hungary at the Puskas Stadium in Budapest. Messi was introduced into the match as a substitute in the second half. He replaced forward Lisandro Lopez in the 64th minute of the match. What was supposed to be a dream debut for the then Barcelona prodigy turned into a nightmare soon as he was sent off, less than a minute after coming on to the pitch.

  5. Related to former Barcelona teammate
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    Related to former Barcelona teammate

    Believe it or not, but Messi is related to his former Barcelona teammate Bojan Krkic. The two former Barcelona stars are fourth cousins. Their great-great-great grandparents were Mariano Perez Miralles and Teresa Llobera Minguet, who married in 1846 in Catalonia and then gave birth to Ramon Perez and Goncal Perez.

    Ramon’s son was Jose Perez Sole, who moved to Argentina, while Goncal’s son Jaume Perez Civit continued to live in Catalonia. Jose Perez Sole’s great-grandson is Lionel Messi while Jaume Perez Civit’s great-grandson is Bojan.

  6. Refused to join Arsenal

    Arsene Wenger, the former manager of Arsenal, attempted to sign Messi when he was a young player at Barcelona's La Masia academy. According to Wenger, he was alerted to Messi's potential by one of his scouts and tried to arrange a deal to bring him to Arsenal. However, Messi was already being hailed as a rising star in Barcelona's youth system, and the Catalan club was determined to keep him. In the end, Messi stayed with Barcelona and became one of the most successful and decorated players in football history.

  7. Youngest Argentine to play in World Cup

    Youngest Argentine to play in World Cup

    Messi made his World Cup debut for Argentina in 2006 at the age of 18 years, 11 months, and 23 days thus becoming the youngest ever Argentina player to play in the competition.

  8. Maiden Barcelona hat-trick at the grandest stage

    Messi's first hat trick for Barcelona came on May 1, 2007, in a La Liga match against Real Madrid at Camp Nou. Messi was just 19 years old at the time and had already established himself as a rising star for the Catalan club.

    In the match, Messi opened the scoring with a brilliant solo effort in the 14th minute, weaving past several Real Madrid defenders before slotting the ball into the net. He scored his second goal of the match in the 58th minute, latching onto a through ball from Ronaldinho and calmly finishing past the goalkeeper. Messi completed his hat-trick in the 90th minute with a powerful shot from outside the box that flew into the top corner of the net.

    Messi's first hat-trick for Barcelona was memorable, as he helped his team secure a 3-3 draw against their bitter rivals. The performance was a sign of Messi's incredible talent, and it foreshadowed the many more goals and hat-tricks he would score for Barcelona in the years to come.

  9. Most decorated Barcelona player

    Most decorated Barcelona player

    Lionel Messi has won 35 major trophies with FC Barcelona, making him the most successful player in the club's history. His trophies include 10 La Liga, seven Copa del Rey, four Champions League, three Fifa Club World Cup, three Uefa Super Cup, and eight Supercopa de Espana.

  10. Only player with two World Cup Golden Balls

    Only player with two World Cup Golden Balls

    By winning the Golden Ball award at the 2022 World Cup, Lionel Messi became the first and only player in history to date to win the award twice. Earlier he had won it at the 2014 World Cup.

  11. Highest Argentine goalscorer in World Cup

    By scoring seven goals at the 2022 World Cup, Lionel Messi went past Gabriel Batistuta (12) to become Argentina’s all-time highest goalscorer in World Cup with 13 goals to his name.

  12. Messi loves Ballon d’Ors

    Messi loves Ballon d’Ors

    Messi has won the most Ballon d'Or awards, with a record seven accolades. He won his first Ballon d'Or in 2009, and then won it again in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, and 2021. Other players who have won the Ballon d'Or multiple times are Cristiano Ronaldo (five times), Michel Platini, Johan Cruyff, and Marco van Basten, each won the award three times, and Alfredo Di Stefano, Franz Beckenbauer, Kevin Keegan, and Ronaldo, who each won it twice.

  13. La Liga’s greatest goalscorer

    Messi is the all-time highest goalscorer in La Liga history, scoring 474 goals in the Spanish top flight. Messi surpassed the previous record holder, Telmo Zarra, in 2014, when he scored his 252nd La Liga goal. Since then, he has continued to add to his tally and has established himself as one of the greatest goalscorers in the history of Spanish football.