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Lionel AndrÃ©s Messi (Spanish pronunciation: [ljoËˆnel anËˆdÉ¾es Ëˆmesi]; born 24 June 1987) is an Argentine footballer who currently plays for La Liga team Barcelona and the Argentine national team. Messi is considered to be one of the best football players of his generation, having received several Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year nominations by the age of 21. His playing style and ability have drawn comparisons to football legend Diego Maradona, who himself declared Messi his "successor".
Messi was born on 24 June 1987 in Rosario, Argentina, to parents Jorge Horacio Messi (b. 1958), a factory worker, and Celia MarÃa Cuccittini, a part-time cleaner. His paternal family originates from the Italian city of Ancona where his ancestor, Angelo Messi, emigrated to Argentina in 1883. He has two older brothers named Rodrigo and MatÃas as well as a sister named Maria Sol. At the age of five, Messi started playing football for Grandoli, a local club coached by his father Jorge. In 1995, Messi switched to Newell's Old Boys who were based in his home city Rosario. At the age of 11, he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. Primera DivisiÃ³n club River Plate showed interest in Messi's progress, but did not have enough money to pay for the treatment, as it cost $900 a month. Carles Rexach, the sporting director of Barcelona, had been made aware of his talent as Messi had relatives in Lleida, Catalonia, and Messi and his father were able to arrange a trial. Barcelona signed him after watching him play,20 offering to pay for the medical bills if he was willing to move to Spain. His family moved to Europe and he started in the club's youth teams.
Messi made his unofficial debut for the first team in a friendly match against Porto on 16 November 2003 (at 16 years and 145 days). Less than a year later, Frank Rijkaard let him make his league debut against Espanyol on 16 October 2004 (at 17 years and 114 days), becoming the third-youngest player ever to play for Barcelona and youngest club player who played in La Liga (a record broken by team mate Bojan KrkiÄ‡ in September 2007). When he scored his first senior goal for the club against Albacete on 1 May 2005, Messi was 17 years, 10 months and 7 days old, becoming the youngest to ever score in a La Liga game for Barcelona23 until 2007 when Bojan KrkiÄ‡ broke this record, scoring from a Messi assist. Messi said about his ex-coach Rijkaard: "I never forget that Rijkaard has launched me. That he gave me confidence as I only sixteen, seventeen years was."
On 16 September, for the second time in three months, Barcelona announced an update to Messi's contract; this time it was improved to pay him as a first team member and extended until June 2014.Messi obtained Spanish citizenship on 26 September 2005 and was finally able to make his debut in the season's Spanish First Division. Messi's first home outing in the UEFA Champions League came on 27 September against Italian club Udinese. Fans at Barcelona's stadium, the Camp Nou, gave Messi a standing ovation upon his substitution, as his composure on the ball and passing combinations with Ronaldinho had paid dividends for Barcelona.
Messi netted six goals in seventeen league appearances, and scored one Champions League goal in six. His season ended prematurely on 7 March 2006, however, when he suffered a muscle tear in his right thigh during the second leg of the second round Champions League tie against Chelsea.29 Frank Rijkaard's Barcelona ended the season as champions of Spain and Europe.
In the 2006â€“07 season, Messi established himself as a regular first team player, scoring 14 times in 26 matches. On 12 November, in the game against Real Zaragoza, Messi suffered a broken metatarsal, ruling him out for three months. Messi recuperated from his injury in Argentina, and his return to action came against Racing Santander on 11 February, where he came on as a second-half substitute. On 11 March, El ClÃ¡sico saw Messi in top form, scoring a hat-trick to earn 10-man Barcelona a 3â€“3 draw, equalising three times, with the final equaliser coming in injury time. In doing so he became the first player since IvÃ¡n Zamorano (for Real Madrid in the 1994â€“95 season) to score a hat-trick in El ClÃ¡sico. Messi is also the youngest player ever to have scored in this fixture. Towards the end of the season he began finding the net more often; 11 of his 14 league goals for the season came from the last 13 games.
Messi also proved the "new Maradona" tag was not all hype, by near-replicating Maradona's most famous goals in the space of the single season. On 18 April 2007, he scored two goals during a Copa del Rey semi-final against Getafe, one of which was very similar to Maradona's famous goal against England at the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico, known as the Goal of the Century. The world's sports press drew comparisons with Maradona, and the Spanish press labelled Messi as "Messidona". He ran about the same distance, 62 metres (203 ft), beat the same number of players (six, including the goalkeeper), scored from a very similar position, and ran towards the corner flag just as Maradona did in Mexico 21 years before.39 In a press conference after the game, Messi's team-mate Deco said: "It was the best goal I have ever seen in my life. "Against Espanyol Messi also scored a goal which was remarkably similar to Maradona's goal against England in the World Cup quarter-finals. Messi launched himself at the ball and connected with his hand to guide the ball past the goalkeeper Carlos Kameni. Despite protests by Espanyol players and replays showing it was clear handball, the goal stood.
During the 2007â€“08 season, Messi scored five goals in a week leading Barcelona to the top four in La Liga. On 19 September he scored once as Barcelona defeated Olympique Lyonnais 3â€“0 at home in a Champions League match. He scored two goals against Sevilla on 22 September and then on 26 September, Messi scored another two goals in a 4â€“1 victory over Real Zaragoza. On 27 February, Messi played in his 100th official match for BarÃ§a against Valencia.
He was nominated for a FIFPro World XI Player Award under the category of Forward. A poll conducted in the online edition of the Spanish newspaper Marca had him as the best player in the world with 77 percent of the vote. Columnists from Barcelona-based newspapers El Mundo Deportivo and Sport stated that the Ballon d'Or should be given to Messi, a view supported by Franz Beckenbauer. Football personalities such as Francesco Totti have declared that they consider Messi to be one of the current best footballers in the world.
Messi was sidelined for six weeks following an injury on 4 March when he suffered a muscle tear in his left thigh during a Champions League match against Celtic. It was the fourth time in three seasons that Messi suffered this type of injury.
Upon Ronaldinho's departure from the club, Messi inherited his number 10 jersey. On 1 October 2008, during a Champions League match against Shakhtar Donetsk, Messi scored two goals during the last seven minutes, after coming on as a substitute for Thierry Henry, to turn the score from 1â€“0 to a 1â€“2 victory for Barcelona. The next league game was versus AtlÃ©tico Madrid, a match billed as a friendly battle between Messi and his good friend Sergio AgÃ¼ero. Messi scored a goal from a free kick and assisted another as BarÃ§a went on to win the match 6â€“1. Messi netted another impressive brace against Sevilla scoring a volley from 23 metres (25 yd) and then dribbling round the goalkeeper and scoring from a tight angle for the other. On 13 December 2008, during the first ClÃ¡sico of the season, Messi scored the second goal in Barcelona's 2â€“0 win over Real Madrid.58 He was also named second in the 2008 FIFA World Player of the Year awards with 678 points.
Messi scored his first hat-trick of 2009 in a Copa del Rey tie against AtlÃ©tico Madrid which Barcelona won 3â€“1. Messi scored another important double on 1 February 2009, coming on as a second half substitute to help Barcelona defeat Racing Santander 1â€“2 after being 1â€“0 down. The second of the two strikes was Barcelona's 5000th league goal. In the 28th round of La Liga, Messi scored his 30th goal of the season in all competitions, helping his team to a 6â€“0 victory over MÃ¡laga CF in the process. On 8 April 2009, he scored twice against Bayern Munich in the Champions' League, setting a personal record of eight goals in the competition. On 18 April, Messi notched his 20th league goal of the season in a 1â€“0 win at Getafe, allowing Barcelona to maintain their six point advantage at the top of the league table over Real Madrid.
As Barcelona's season was drawing to a close, Messi scored twice (his 35th and 36th goals in all competitions) to cap a 6â€“2 win over Real Madrid at the Santiago BernabÃ©u64 in what was Real's heaviest defeat since 1930. After scoring each goal, he ran towards the fans and the cameras lifting up his Barcelona jersey and showing another T-shirt that read SÃndrome X FrÃ gil, Catalan for Fragile X Syndrome, to show his support for children who suffer from the affliction. Messi was involved in the build-up to AndrÃ©s Iniesta's injury time goal against Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final to send Barcelona through to face Manchester United in the final. He won his first Copa del Rey on 13 May, scoring one goal and assisting another two, in a 4â€“1 victory over Athletic Bilbao. He helped his team win the double by winning La Liga. On 27 May he helped Barcelona win the 2009 UEFA Champions League Final by scoring a second goal in the 70th minute giving Barcelona a two goal lead; he also became the top scorer in the Champions Leagueâ€”the youngest in the tournament's historyâ€”with nine goals. Messi also won the UEFA Club Forward of the Year: and the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year rounding off a spectacular year in Europe. This victory meant Barcelona had won the Copa del Rey, La Liga and UEFA Champions League in the one season, and was the first time a Spanish club had ever won the treble.
"Once he's on the run, Messi is unstoppable. He's the only player who can change direction at such a pace."
"He is the best player in the world by some distance. He's (like) a PlayStation. He can take advantage of every mistake we make."
Arsene Wenger after Barcelona won 4â€“1 against Arsenal.
After winning the 2009 UEFA Super Cup, Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola asserted that Messi was probably the best player he had ever seen.
On 18 September, Messi signed a new contract with Barcelona, running until 2016 and with a buy-out clause of â‚¬250 million included, making Messi, along with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the highest paid players in La Liga, with earnings of around â‚¬9.5 million yearly. Four days later, on 22 September, Messi scored two goals and assisted another in BarÃ§a's 4â€“1 win over Racing Santander in La Liga. Messi scored his first European goal of the season on 29 September in a 2â€“0 win over Dynamo Kyiv. Messi took his goal tally to six goals in seven games in La Liga with a strike during a 6â€“1 rout over Real Zaragoza at Camp Nou, and also scored a penalty in BarÃ§a's 4â€“2 win over Mallorca at the Camp Nou on 7 November. On 1 December 2009, Messi was named winner of the 2009 Ballon d'Or, beating runner-up Cristiano Ronaldo by largest ever margin of 473 to 233. Afterwards, France Football magazine quoted Messi as saying: "I dedicate it to my family. They were always present when I needed them and sometimes felt even stronger emotions than me."
On 19 December, Messi scored the winner in the final of the 2009 FIFA Club World Cup against Estudiantes in Abu Dhabi, and thus giving the club their sixth title of the year. Two days later, he was given the FIFA World Player of the Year award; beating Cristiano Ronaldo, Xavi, KakÃ¡ and AndrÃ©s Iniesta to the award. This was the first time he had won the award, and he became the first Argentinean to ever receive this honour. On 10 January 2010, Messi scored his first hat-trick in 2010 and his first hat-trick of the season against Tenerife in the 0â€“5 victory. On 17 January, Messi scored his 100th goal for the club in the 4â€“0 victory over Sevilla.
He then started an impressive run scoring 11 goals in five games. First he scored on the 84th minute against MÃ¡laga for a 2â€“1 win, then he scored two goals against AlmerÃa in a 2â€“2 tie. He continued his spree with an impressive week where he scored eight goals; he started by scoring a hat-trick against Valencia in a 3â€“0 home win, then he scored two goals against Stuttgart, in a 4â€“0 win that secured Barcelona's qualification to the quarterfinals of the Champions League, and finally he scored another hat-trick against Zaragoza in a 4â€“2 away win, becoming the first FC Barcelona player to score back-to-back hat-tricks in La Liga. He played his 200th official match for Barcelona against Osasuna on 24 March 2010. On 6 April 2010, for the first time in Messi's career he scored four goals in a single match, netting the lot in a 4â€“1 home win over Arsenal in the Champions League quarter-final second leg. This also saw him overtake Rivaldo as Barcelona's all time greatest scorer in the competition. On 10 April 2010, Messi scored his 40th goal of the season when he netted the first goal in a 2â€“0 away win against title-rivals Real Madrid in El ClÃ¡sico. On May 1, Messi played his 50th game of the season and scored two goals on a 4-1 away win against Villarreal with a total of 42 goals in 50 games. It is clear from this season, that he'll break the 42 goal season of ronaldo.
In June 2004, he debuted for Argentina, playing in an under-20 friendly match against Paraguay. In 2005 he was part of a team that won the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship in the Netherlands. There, he won the Golden Ball and the Golden Shoe.
He made his full international debut on 17 August 2005 against Hungary at 18 years of age. He was substituted on during the 63rd minute, but was sent off on the 65th minute because the referee, Markus Merk, found he had elbowed defender Vilmos VanczÃ¡k, who was tugging Messi's shirt. The decision was contentious and Maradona even claimed the decision was pre-meditated. Messi returned to the team on 3 September in Argentina's 1â€“0 World Cup qualifier away defeat to Paraguay. Ahead of the match he had said "This is a re-debut. The first one was a bit short." He then started his first game for Argentina against Peru; after the match Pekerman described Messi as "a jewel".
On 28 March 2009, in a World Cup Qualifier against Venezuela, Messi wore the Argentine number 10 jersey for the first time. This match was the first official match for Diego Maradona as the Argentina coach. Argentina won the match 4â€“0 with Lionel Messi opening the scoring.
2006 FIFA World Cup
The injury that kept Messi from playing for two months at the end of the 2005â€“06 season jeopardised his presence in the World Cup. Nevertheless, Messi was selected in the Argentina squad for the tournament on 15 May 2006. He also played in the final match before the World Cup against the Argentine U-20 team for 15 minutes and a friendly match against Angola from the 64th minute. He witnessed Argentina's opening match victory against Ivory Coast from the substitute's bench. In the next match against Serbia, Messi became the youngest player to represent Argentina at a World Cup when he came on as a substitute for Maxi RodrÃguez in the 74th minute. He assisted HernÃ¡n Crespo's goal within minutes of entering the game and also scored the final goal in the 6â€“0 victory, making him the youngest scorer in the tournament and the sixth youngest goalscorer in the history of the World Cup. Messi started in Argentina's following 0â€“0 tie against the Netherlands. In the following game against Mexico, Messi came on as a substitute in the 84th minute, with the score tied at 1â€“1. He appeared to score a goal, but it was ruled offside with Argentina needing a late goal in extra time to proceed. Coach JosÃ© Pekerman left Messi on the bench during the quarter-final match against Germany, which they lost 4â€“2 on a penalty shootout.
2007 Copa AmÃ©rica
Messi played his first game in the Copa AmÃ©rica 2007 on 29 June 2007, when Argentina defeated United States 4â€“1 in the first game. In this game, he showed his capabilities as a playmaker. He set up a goal for fellow striker HernÃ¡n Crespo and had numerous shots on target. Tevez came on as a substitute for Messi in the 79th minute and scored minutes later.
His second game was against Colombia, in which he won a penalty that Crespo converted to tie the game at 1â€“1. He also played a part in Argentina's second goal as he was fouled outside the box, which allowed Juan Roman Riquelme to score from a freekick, and increase Argentina's lead to 3â€“1. The final score of the game was 4â€“2 in Argentina's favor and guaranteed them a spot in the tournament's quarterfinals.
In the third game, against Paraguay the coach rested Messi having already qualified for the quarter-finals. He came off the bench in place of Esteban Cambiasso in the 64th minute, with the score at 0â€“0. In the 79th minute he created a goal for Javier Mascherano. In the quarter-finals, as Argentina faced Peru, Messi scored the second goal of the game, from a Riquelme pass in a 4â€“0 win. During the semi-final match against Mexico, Messi scored a lob over Oswaldo SÃ¡nchez to see Argentina through to the final with a 3â€“0 win. Argentina went on to lose 3â€“0 to Brazil in the final.
2008 Summer Olympics
Having barred Messi from playing for Argentina in the 2008 Olympics,1Barcelona agreed to release him after he held talks with newly appointed coach Josep Guardiola. He joined the Argentina squad and scored the first goal in a 2â€“1 victory over Ivory Coast.1He then scored the opening goal and assisted Ãngel Di MarÃa in the second to help his side to a 2â€“1 extra-time win against the Netherlands.1He also featured in Argentina's match against rivals Brazil, in which Argentina took a 3â€“0 victory, thus advancing to the final. In the gold medal match, Messi again assisted Di MarÃa for the only goal in a 1â€“0 victory over Nigeria
Messi was at one stage romantically linked to Macarena Lemos, also from his hometown of Rosario. He is said to have been introduced to her by the girl's father when he returned to Rosario to recover from his injury a few days before the start of the 2006 World Cup. He has in the past also been linked to the Argentine model, Luciana Salazar. In January 2009 he told "Hat Trick BarÃ§a", a programme on Canal 33: "I have a girlfriend and she is living in Argentina, I am relaxed and happy". He was seen with the girl, Antonella Roccuzzo, at a carnival in Sitges after the Barcelona-Espanyol derby. Roccuzzo is a fellow native of Rosario.126 They plan to wed near the end of 2010.125
He is featured on the front cover of the video game Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 and is also involved in promotional campaigns for the game. Messi, along with Fernando Torres, is the face of Pro Evolution Soccer 2010, and was also involved in the motion capturing and the trailer. Messi is sponsored by the German sportswear company Adidas and features in their television advertisements.
He has two cousins in football; Maxi and Emanuel Biancucchi.
Messi was announced as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF on 11 March 2010.
Honours and Awards
* Spanish League (3): 2004â€“05, 2005â€“06, 2008â€“09
* Spanish Cup (1): 2008â€“09
* Spanish Supercup (3): 2005, 2006, 2009
* UEFA Champions League (2): 2005â€“06, 2008â€“09
* UEFA Super Cup (1): 2009
* FIFA Club World Cup (1): 2009
* FIFA U-20 World Cup (1): 2005
* Olympic Gold Medal (1): 2008
* FIFA U-20 World Cup Top Scorer: 2005
* FIFA U-20 World Cup Player of the Tournament: 2005
* Copa AmÃ©rica Young Player of the Tournament: 2007
* U-21 European Footballer of the Year: 2007
* FIFA World Player of the Year: 2009
* FIFA Team of the Year: 2008, 2009
* European Footballer of the Year: 2009
* Onze d'Or: 2009
* UEFA Champions League Player of the Year: 2008â€“2009
* UEFA Champions League Forward of the Year: 2008â€“2009
* UEFA Team of the Year: 2007â€“2008, 2008â€“2009
* UEFA Champions League Top Scorer: 2008â€“2009
* FIFPro World Player of the Year: 2008â€“09
* FIFPro Special Young Player of the Year: 2006â€“2007, 2007â€“2008
* FIFPro World Young Player of the Year: 2005â€“2006, 2006â€“2007, 2007â€“2008
* FIFPro World XI: 2006â€“2007, 2007â€“2008, 2008â€“2009
* Trofeo Alfredo Di StÃ©fano: 2008â€“2009
* LFP Best Player: 2008â€“2009
* LFP Best Striker: 2008â€“2009
* World Soccer Player of the Year: 2009
* World Soccer Young Player of the Year: 2005â€“2006, 2006â€“2007, 2007â€“2008
* FIFA Club World Cup Golden Ball (Toyota Award): 2009
* Player of the Year of Argentina: 2005, 2007, 2009
* Premio Don BalÃ³n (Best Foreign Player in La Liga): 2006â€“2007, 2008â€“2009
* EFE Trophy (Best Ibero-American Player in La Liga): 2006â€“2007, 2008â€“2009
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 May 2010 02:05|