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Ten Things You Should Know About... Lionel Messi
Widely regarded as the greatest player of his generation, Lionel Messi is a footballing phenomenon .But here’s some things you might not know about the Argentine sensation.
#1. The star of the Nou Camp was born Lionel Andrés "Leo" Messi Cuccittini on 24 June 1987 in Rosario, Sante Fe, Argentina.
#2.As a young boy, Messi was picked up by the top flight Argentine club Newell’s Old Boys of Rosario. It was here his talents started to blossom . It wasn’t long before he came to the attention of the sporting director of Barcelona, Carlos Rexach. A move to Catalonia was sealed in 2000, when Barca agreed to fund the growth hormone treatment that Messi needed and that Newell’s were unable to fund.
#3. Every young player dreams of playing for his/her national team. Lionel Messi was no different and so it was with bursting pride that he ran onto the pitch, as a substitute for Lisandro Lopez, for Argentina against Hungary.
In less than a minute he had driven forward dangerously with the ball and then… and then it changed. Messi reacted to Vilmos Vanczak, Hungary defender, who was pulling his shirt by elbowing him.
The debut ended abruptly, and very quickly, with Messi being sent off.
#4.. On 16 November 2003, aged just 16 years and 145 days, Messi made his debut for Barcelona. The oppenents were Porto, in a friendly.
Messi’s league debut came a little less than a year later. Manager Frank Rijkaard decided that the time was ripe to unleash his South American dynamo against RCD Espanyol. It was the 16 October 2004 and Messi was 17 years and 114 days old.
#5. Messi had to wait until 1st May 2005 to score his first goal (of many) for the Catalan giants. The opponents were Albacete Balompie. When he netted he became the youngest ever scorer in La Liga for Barca. He was 17 years , ten months, and seven days old.This record was short lived though as the more youthful Bojan Krkic scored in 2007.
#6. The 2005 FIFA Youth World Championship saw Messi explode into public awareness. He amassed five goals and was soon catapulted into the national senior team. In 2007 Argentina and Messi came second in the Copa America but a year later things were better. Messi was the outstanding player of the tournament as Argentina romped to the 2008 Olympic Gold medal.
#7. “My record stood for 40 years – 85 goals in a year – and now the best player in the World has broken it, and I’m delighted for him. He is an incredible player, gigantic.” So said legendary German striker Gerd “Der Bomber” Muller when Messi, having rampaged through defences all year, scored twice (his 85th and 86th goals) against Real Betis on 9 December 2012.
#8. “To act in favour of kids and adolescents who are in a risk situation.
The prospects are: to work on actions, not only in our country, but also abroad and together with other institutions which develop projects in alignment with ideals of the Foundation.”
These words are the mission statement of the Lionel Messi Foundation.
Messi and his family decided to set up the Foundation to help children from all backgrounds try to make their aspirations become a reality. Messi is aware of the help he needed to prosper and is keen to pay something back.
#9. 'If you have to chose a player not just right now in the world, but the best in history, it is Lionel Messi, no doubt for me”. This is the opinion of his club teammate Xavi. Biased? Yes. Untrue? Probably not! Most people agree Messi has now reached the elevated status that for years was reserved for Pele and Maradona. Some will say Cristiano Ronaldo is the top dog but for a lot of others, and not just Barca fans, the best we have ever seen is Lionel Andres Messi.
#10. Lionel Messi has won a lot of titles with Barcelona. Domestically he has collected six La Liga’s, two Copas del Rey, and five Supercopas de Espana , Whilst on his adventures abroad he has picked up three UEFA Champion’s Leagues, two UEFA Super Cups and two FIFA Club World Cups. He is also the first football player in history to win four FIFA/Ballon d’Or awards all of which he won consecutively, as well as the first to win three European Golden Shoe awards.
And here’s one more to make it a footballing eleven:
#11"Ronaldo is the best among humans but Messi is an alien"
Words of wisdom from Gerard Pique, Barcelona and Spain.