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Lionel Andrés Messi
Born 24 June 1987 in Rosario, Argentina. A soccer player who currently plays as a forward for Spanish club FC Barcelona and the Argentinian National Team. He is the captain of his Argentina's national soccer team.
Lionel Andres Messi received Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year nominations by the age of 21. In 2009, Messi won his 1st Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year awards. Messi also won the inaugural FIFA Ballon d'Or in 2010, and again in 2011 and 2012. Messi won the 2010–11 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award. Lionel Messi became Barcelona's all-time top scorer in all official club competitions by age 24. Messi became the youngest player to score 200 La Liga goals by age 25.
Ranked as the best player in the world and rated by most commentators, coaches and players as the greatest soccer player of all time, Lione Messi is the 1st soccer player in history to win 4 FIFA/Ballons d'Or, all of then won consecutively, as well as the 1st to win 3 European Golden Shoe awards. With Barcelona, Lionel Andres Messi has won 6 La Ligas titles, 2 Copas del Rey, 5 Supercopas de España, 3 UEFA Champions Leagues, 2 UEFA Super Cups and 2 Club World Cups.
Lionel Messi is the 1st and only player to be top-scorer in 4 consecutive Champions League campaigns, and also holds the record for hat-tricks scored at 4 for the entire history of the competition. Lionel Messi made Champions League history in March of 2012, by becoming the 1st player to score 5 goals in 1 match. He also tied José Altafini's record of 14 goals in a single Champions League season. Messi set the European record for most goals scored in a season during the 2011–12 season, with 73 goals. Messi also set the current goalscoring record in a single La Liga season during the same season, scoring 50 goals. During that same season, Lionel Andres Messi became the 1st player ever to have scored and assisted in 6 different official competitions in 1 season. Lionel Messi scored his 300th Barcelona goal on February 16, 2013. Messi scored in his 19th consecutive La Liga game on March 30, 2013 , becoming the 1st soccer player in history to net in consecutive matches against every team in a professional soccer league. He extended his record scoring streak to 21 consecutive league matches, and the run ended only when he sustained a hamstring injury. With a hat-trick against Real Madrid on March 23 2014, Lionel Messi became the player with most goals and most hat-tricks in the history of El Clásico.
Lionel Messi helped Argentina win the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup, finishing as both the best player and the top scorer (with 6 goals). In 2006, he became the youngest Argentine to play and score in the FIFA World Cup, and won a runners-up medal at the Copa América in 2007, in which he was elected young player of the tournament. In 2008, he won his 1st international honour, an Olympic Gold Medal, with the Argentina Olympic soccer team. His playing style and stature have drawn comparisons to compatriot Diego Maradona, who himself declared Messi his "successor".
Lionel Andres Messi was born in Rosario, Santa Fe Province, to parents Jorge Horácio Messi and Celia María Cuccittini. His paternal family originates from the Italian city of Ancona, from which his ancestor, Angelo Messi, emigrated to Argentina in 1883. He has 2 older brothers, Rodrigo and Matías, and a sister, María Sol. At the age of 5, Messi started playing soccer for Grandoli, a local club coached by his father. In 1995, LIonel Messi switched to Newell's Old Boys who were based in his home city of Rosario. He became part of a local youth powerhouse that lost only 1 match in the next 4 years and became locally known as "The Machine of '87", based on the year they were born.
Lione Messi was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency at the age of 11. Local powerhouse River Plate showed interest in Messi's progress, but were not willing to pay for treatment for his condition, which cost $900 a month. Carles Rexach, the sporting director of FC Barcelona, was made aware of his talent as Messi had relatives in Lleida in western Catalonia, and Messi and his father were able to arrange a trial with the team. Rexach, with no other paper at hand, offered Messi a contract written on a paper napkin. Barcelona offered to pay Messi's medical bills on the condition that he moved to Spain. Messi and his father duly moved to Barcelona, where Messi enrolled in the club's youth academy.
Style of play
Messi, playing for Argentina in 2011, has been compared to compatriot Diego Maradona and 3-time FIFA/Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo.
Lionel Messi has been compared to compatriot Diego Armando Maradona, due to their similar playing style and stature, which gives him a lower centre of gravity than most players, allowing him to be more agile and change direction more quickly, helping him to evade tackles. His short, strong legs allow him to excel in short bursts of acceleration and his quick feet allow him to keep control of the ball when dribbling at speed. His former FC Barcelona manager, Pep Guardiola, once stated: "Messi is the only player that runs faster with the ball than he does without it." Like Maradona before him, Messi is dominantly a left footed player. Lionel Messi is widely regarded as 1 of the best players in the world of his generation, and as 1 of the best players of all time.
Messi often undertakes individual dribbling runs towards goal, specially during counterattacks, mostly starting from the mid-field line, also described as a very versatile team player, with great vision, and known for his passing and creative ability and combinations with Barcelona team mates Xavi and Iniesta.
Messi is an extremely accurate set piece and penalty kick taker. With regards to his dribbling ability, Maradona has said of Messi: "The ball stays glued to his foot; I’ve seen great players in my career, but I’ve never seen anyone with Messi's ball control." Maradona has stated that he believes Messi to currently be the greatest player in the world.
Lionel Messi plays as free attacker and playmaker, a great finisher, with pace, dribbling and balance, good positioning, great vision and passing ability. He can attack from either wing or through the middle of the field. He started his career as a left-winger and forward, but later moved onto the right wing by former manager Frank Rijkaard, who noticed that Messi could cut through the defense into the middle of the pitch allowing him to curl shots on goal with his left foot, rather than just crossing balls for team mates. Messi played the false 9 role under Guardiola. This role is characterized by Messi's tendency to seemingly be playing as a centre forward, or as a lone striker, although he will often run back into deep positions drawing defenders with him, creating space for wingers, other forwards, and attacking midfielders to make runs, allowing him to provide assists or space to begin dribbling runs, score goals or create attacking plays. With the Argentinian National team, Messi usually plays anywhere along the front line.
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 glamour model Luciana Salazar. In January 2009 he told "Hat Trick Barça", 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. On 2 June 2012, Messi assisted and scored a goal in Argentina's 4–0 win against Ecuador in a World Cup 2014 Qualifying match. He celebrated scoring his 23rd goal for Argentina, by placing the ball under his jersey, as his girlfriend is reportedly 12 weeks pregnant. She posted on Twitter that she is expected to give birth in September. Messi confirmed that the child, a son, would be born in October, and that he and his girlfriend plan to name him Thiago. However, the birth would occur later than expected. On 2 November 2012, Messi became a father for the first time following the birth of his son Thiago. FC Barcelona's official website briefly stated "Leo Messi is a father". Besides, the Argentine striker added on his Facebook page: "Today I am the happiest man in the world, my son was born and thanks to God for this gift!" In March 2013, Messi paid tribute to his son Thiago by having his name and tiny palm prints etched on his left calf.
According to American writer Wright Thompson, Lionel Andres Messi has maintained close ties to Rosario and his family since leaving for Spain, and has gone to great lengths to maintain them. He still keeps in touch with fellow members of "The Machine of '87". One time when he was in training with the Argentina national team in Buenos Aires, he made a three-hour trip by car to Rosario immediately after practice to have dinner with his family. Messi has also kept ownership of his old house in Rosario, although his family no longer lives in it; he maintains a penthouse apartment in an exclusive residential building in which his mother lives (Messi's father spends most of his time in Spain with him), as well as a family compound just outside the city.
Messi established the Leo Messi Foundation in 2007, a charity supporting access to education and health care for vulnerable children. In response to Messi's own childhood medical difficulties, the Leo Messi Foundation has offered Argentine children diagnosed with illnesses treatment in Spain and funds covering the transport, hospital and recuperation costs. Messi's foundation is supported by his own fundraising activity with additional assistance from Herbalife.
Messi was announced as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF on March 11, 2010. Messi's UNICEF ambassador activities are aimed at supporting children’s rights. Messi is supported in this by Barcelona, who also have a strong association with UNICEF.
On March 2013, Lionel Messi donated more than $600,000 dollars towards the refurbishment of a children's hospital in his hometown of Rosario, Argentina. The money was used to renovate the oncology unit at the Victor J Vilela Children's Hospital, as well as paying for doctors to travel to Barcelona for training.
In March 2010, France Soccer ranked him at the top of its list of the world's richest soccer players, ahead of David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo, with more than $33 million dollars in combined income from salaries, bonuses and off-field earnings. His net worth is estimated at over $120 million dollars.
In December 2012, FC Barcelona announced that Messi will sign a 5-year contract extension which will keep him at FC Barcelona until 2018 and raising his base salary to $21.2 million dollars (net), which will make him the highest on-the-field earner in soccer. As the tax bracket for this level of income in Spain is 56%, it means that Barça will have to pay Messi's income tax of a little over $26.5 million dollars. His formal buy-out clause remains at almost $300 million dollars.
Messi was featured on the front covers of the video games Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 and Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 and is also involved in promotional campaigns for the games. Messi, along with Fernando Torres, is the face of Pro Evolution Soccer 2010. Messi was confirmed as the new face of PES's rival soccer series FIFA in November 2011 with his debut as a cover star of the series coming in 2012's FIFA Street. Messi was also chosen to be on the cover of FIFA 13 and FIFA 14. Messi is sponsored by the German sportswear company Adidas and features in their television advertisements. In June 2010, Messi also signed a 3–year contract with Herbalife which further supports the Leo Messi Foundation.
Messi was named twice in the Time 100, the magazine's annual list of the most influential people in the world, in 2011 and in 2012.
In April 2011, Messi launched a Facebook page and within a few hours, his page had attracted more than six million followers. His Facebook page had over 72 million followers in September 2014.
On March 2013, Messi had a pure gold replica of his left foot made which went on sale in Japan for $5.25 million, in aid of charity. The 25-kilogram statue was created by Japanese jeweller Ginza Tanaka to commemorate Messi's record-breaking fourth consecutive Ballon d'Or award.
It was announced on 8 May 2013 that Epic Pictures Group to finance and produce a movie about the life of Messi. Based on the biography "MESSI: The Inside Story of the Boy Who Became a Legend", this is a "Rocky" style tale about a young boy from humble beginnings who overcomes his physical disadvantages, especially his 5-foot-7-inch height, to become one of the greatest players of all time. The release of the biopic is scheduled to coincide with the start of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
In September 2012, Messi became the global brand ambassador of Turkish Airlines. Messi shot a commercial for the airline with NBA star Kobe Bryant. In the airline's latest commercial, the duo competes to win the attention of a young boy.
In 16 December 2012, Messi took the field against Atlético Madrid in a La Liga match wearing a pair of adidas adizero boots designed by a fan. Earlier in 2012, fans of the Messi were given the unique opportunity to create a pair of adidas adizero f50s by visiting the new miadidas configurator and submitting their designs. Javier Pascual Mullor from Spain was named as the winner from over 14,200 submitted entries. On 13 January 2013, in a league match against Málaga CF, Messi wore a special pair of adidas adizero F50 boots in order to commemorate his record fourth Ballon d'Or win.
In January 2013, Messi appeared in a short advert for Japanese face wash Scalp-D. The advert showed the Argentine speaking a few Japanese words.
In July 2013, Messi appeared in an advertisement of WeChat messaging application in China. He was wearing Adidas suites and holding two WeChat maskots. WeChat is a cross platform messaging application from Tencent.