Widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, Messi has won a record seven Ballon d'Or awards and a record six European Golden Shoes, and in 2020 he was named to the Ballon d'Or Dream Team.
116 Facts About Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi has the most international goals by a South American male.
Lionel Messi has scored over 800 senior career goals for club and country, and has the most goals by a player for a single club.
Lionel Messi relocated to Spain from Argentina aged 13 to join Barcelona, for whom he made his competitive debut aged 17 in October 2004.
Three successful seasons followed, with Lionel Messi winning four consecutive Ballons d'Or, making him the first player to win the award four times.
Lionel Messi assumed captaincy of Barcelona in 2018, and won a record sixth Ballon d'Or in 2019.
An Argentine international, Lionel Messi is the country's all-time leading goalscorer and holds the national record for appearances.
Lionel Messi was among Times 100 most influential people in the world in 2011,2012 and 2023.
In 2020 and 2023, he was awarded the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, with Lionel Messi being the first footballer and the first team-sport athlete to win the award.
Lionel Messi was born on 24 June 1987 in Rosario, Santa Fe, the third of four children of Jorge Lionel Messi, a steel factory manager, and his wife Celia Cuccittini, who worked in a magnet manufacturing workshop.
Lionel Messi was greatly affected by her death, shortly before his eleventh birthday; since then, as a devout Roman Catholic, he has celebrated his goals by looking up and pointing to the sky in tribute to his grandmother.
Lionel Messi was scouted by Buenos Aires club River Plate, whose playmaker, Pablo Aimar, he idolised, but they declined to pay for his treatment.
Lionel Messi was then one of several youth players called up to strengthen a depleted first team during the international break.
At 16 years, four months, and 23 days old, Lionel Messi made his first team debut when he came on in the 75th minute during a friendly against Jose Mourinho's Porto on 16 November 2003.
Lionel Messi's performance, creating two chances and a shot on goal, impressed the technical staff, and he subsequently began training daily with the club's reserve side, Barcelona B, as well as weekly with the first team.
Lionel Messi helped save them from the relegation zone of the Tercera Division, scoring five goals in ten games, including a hat-trick in eight minutes during a Copa del Rey match while man-marked by Sevilla's Sergio Ramos.
Lionel Messi played five games with the B team that season but did not score.
Lionel Messi finished the campaign having scored for four of his five teams with a total of 36 goals in all official competitions.
Lionel Messi was so disappointed that he did not celebrate his team's victory over Arsenal in Paris, something he later came to regret.
Lionel Messi recovered in time for the last 16 round of the Champions League against Liverpool, but was effectively marked out of the game; Barcelona, the reigning champions, were out of the competition.
Lionel Messi's growing importance to the club was reflected in a new contract, signed that month, which greatly increased his wages.
Already frequently compared to compatriot Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi proved their similarity when he nearly replicated Maradona's two most famous goals in the span of seven weeks.
Lionel Messi collected the ball on the right side near the halfway line, ran 60 metres, and beat five defenders before scoring with an angled finish, just as Maradona had done.
Lionel Messi returned to score twice in their away victory against Celtic in the last 16 round of the Champions League, becoming the competition's top scorer at that point with six goals, but reinjured himself during the return leg on 4 March 2008.
At 22 years old, Lionel Messi won the Ballon d'Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year award, both times by the biggest voting margin in each trophy's history.
Lionel Messi can take advantage of every mistake we make.
Lionel Messi helped the team achieve 16 consecutive league victories, a record in Spanish football, concluding with another hat-trick against Atletico Madrid on 5 February 2011.
Lionel Messi finished the season with 53 goals in all competitions, becoming Barcelona's all-time single-season top scorer and the first player in Spanish football to reach the 50-goal benchmark.
Under manager Tito Vilanova, who had first coached him aged 14 at La Masia, Lionel Messi helped the club achieve its best-ever start to a La Liga season during the second half of 2012, amassing 55 points by the competition's midway point, a record in Spanish football.
Lionel Messi sent Muller a number 10 Barcelona shirt, signed "with respect and admiration", after breaking his 40-year record.
At the close of the year, Lionel Messi had scored a record 91 goals in all competitions for Barcelona and Argentina.
Lionel Messi continued to struggle with injury throughout 2013, eventually parting ways with his long-time personal physiotherapist.
Lionel Messi finished the campaign with his worst output in five seasons, though he still managed to score 41 goals in all competitions.
Lionel Messi again placed second in the FIFA Ballon d'Or behind Cristiano Ronaldo, largely owing to his second-place achievement with Argentina at the World Cup.
At the start of 2015, Barcelona were perceived to be headed for another disappointing end to the season, with renewed speculation in the media that Lionel Messi was leaving the club.
On 11 January 2016, Lionel Messi won the FIFA Ballon d'Or for a record fifth time in his career.
In total, Lionel Messi scored 41 goals as Barcelona's attacking trio managed a Spanish record of 131 goals throughout the season, breaking the record they had set the previous season.
Lionel Messi finished the year with 51 goals, making him Europe's top scorer, one ahead of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Lionel Messi's game-winning goal in stoppage time was his 500th for Barcelona.
Thereby, Lionel Messi extended his El Clasico goalscoring record with the goal being his 24th official and 25th overall.
Lionel Messi became only the second player after Cristiano Ronaldo to reach this century milestone, but accomplished it in 21 fewer appearances than the Portuguese counterpart.
Lionel Messi finished the season as the top scorer in La Liga, with 34 goals, which saw him win his fifth Golden Shoe award.
On 19 August, Lionel Messi's chipped goal from the edge of the box against Real Betis was nominated for the 2019 FIFA Puskas Award.
On 2 September, Lionel Messi was shortlisted as one of the three finalists for both the 2019 FIFA Puskas Award and the 2019 Best FIFA Men's Player Award, with Lionel Messi winning the latter on 23 September.
Lionel Messi equalled Raul and Cristiano Ronaldo's shared record of the most sides scored against in the competition.
Lionel Messi's goals saw him overtake Cristiano Ronaldo's senior goal tally at club level.
Later that evening, Lionel Messi announced in an interview with Goal that he would continue at Barcelona for the final year of his contract.
On 25 November, Lionel Messi was nominated for the 2020 Best FIFA Men's Player award, and was later shortlisted as one of the final three candidates.
The top goalscorer in La Liga, Lionel Messi received the Pichichi trophy for a record eighth time in his career.
Three days later, in a tearful press conference held at the Camp Nou, Lionel Messi confirmed that he would be leaving Barcelona.
Lionel Messi signed a two-year deal until June 2023 with an option for an extra year.
Lionel Messi chose 30 as his squad number, the same he wore as a teenager when he made his senior debut for Barcelona.
On 2 January 2022, PSG announced that Lionel Messi had tested positive for COVID-19, missing two league games and a cup game as a result.
Lionel Messi finished his debut season with 11 goals and 14 assists across all competitions.
Lionel Messi declined the offer, having aspired to represent La Albiceleste since childhood.
Lionel Messi was included in the squad for the South American Youth Championship, held in Colombia in February 2005.
Lionel Messi's performances drew comparisons with compatriot Diego Maradona, who had led Argentina to the title in 1979.
Aged 18, Lionel Messi made his senior debut for Argentina in the Ferenc Puskas Stadium when he came on in the 63rd minute, only to be sent off after two minutes for a perceived foul against Vilmos Vanczak, who had grabbed his shirt; Lionel Messi had struck the defender with his arm while trying to shake him off, which the referee interpreted as an intentional elbowing, a contentious decision.
Lionel Messi was reportedly found weeping in the dressing room after his sending-off.
Lionel Messi started his first game in the next qualifying match against Peru, in which he was able to win a crucial penalty that secured their victory.
Lionel Messi subsequently made regular appearances for the team ahead of Argentina's participation in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, scoring his first goal in a friendly against Croatia on 1 March 2006.
Lionel Messi appeared to score a goal, but it was contentiously ruled offside, with the team needing a late goal in extra time to proceed.
Back home, Pekerman's decision to leave him on the bench against Germany led to widespread criticism from those who believed Lionel Messi could have changed the outcome of the match in Argentina's favour.
Lionel Messi was named the best young player of the tournament by CONMEBOL.
Ahead of the 2008 Summer Olympics, Barcelona legally barred Lionel Messi from representing Argentina at the tournament as it coincided with their Champions League qualifying matches.
Back home Lionel Messi was the subject of harsher judgement.
Media and fans noted that he did not combine well with striker Carlos Tevez, who enjoyed greater popularity among the Argentine public; Lionel Messi was consequently booed by his own team's supporters for the first time in his career.
Lionel Messi netted a total of 12 goals in 9 games for Argentina in 2012, equalling the record held by Gabriel Batistuta for the most goals scored in a calendar year for their country.
Lionel Messi missed several opportunities to open the scoring throughout the match, in particular at the start of the second half when his breakaway effort went wide of the far post.
However, his selection drew criticism due to his lack of goals in the knockout round; FIFA President Sepp Blatter expressed his surprise, while Maradona suggested that Lionel Messi had undeservedly been chosen for marketing purposes.
Lionel Messi was greeted by fans with signs like "Don't go, Leo" when the team landed in Buenos Aires.
Lionel Messi is the greatest thing we have in Argentina and we must take care of him.
Just a week after Lionel Messi announced his international retirement, Argentine newspaper La Nacion reported that he was reconsidering playing for Argentina at the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in September.
On 12 August, it was confirmed that Lionel Messi had reversed his decision to retire from international football, and he was included in the squad for the national team's upcoming 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
On 28 March 2017, Lionel Messi was suspended for four international games for insulting an assistant referee in a game against Chile on 23 March 2017.
Lionel Messi later issued an apology for his comments, but was fined $1,500 and was handed a one-match ban by CONMEBOL, which ruled him out of Argentina's next World Cup qualifier.
On 15 November, Lionel Messi played in the 2019 Superclasico de las Americas versus Brazil, scoring the winning goal by a rebound of his saved penalty.
Lionel Messi was directly involved in 9 out of the 12 goals scored by Argentina, scoring four and assisting five; he was named the player of the tournament for his performances, an honour he shared with Neymar.
Lionel Messi finished as the tournament's top scorer with four goals tied with Colombia's Luis Diaz, with the Golden Boot awarded to Messi as he had more assists.
Argentina advanced to the final against France, with Lionel Messi stating that it would be his final World Cup appearance.
Lionel Messi scored Argentina's opening goal with a penalty, becoming in the process the first player since the last-16 round was introduced in 1986 to score a goal in each round of a single World Cup edition.
Lionel Messi received the Golden Ball for player of the tournament, becoming the first player to win it twice.
Lionel Messi finished second in the Golden Boot race with seven goals in seven games, one behind Mbappe.
In March 2023, Lionel Messi made his return to Argentina as a world champion with two appearances in friendlies in his home country.
Lionel Messi has often been described as a magician; a conjurer, creating goals and opportunities where seemingly none exist.
Tactically, Lionel Messi plays in a free attacking role; a versatile player, he is capable of attacking on either wing or through the centre of the pitch.
Lionel Messi's favoured position in childhood was the playmaker behind two strikers, known as the enganche in Argentine football, but he began his career in Spain as a left-winger or left-sided forward.
Under Guardiola and subsequent managers, he most often played in a false nine role; positioned as a centre-forward or lone striker, he would roam the centre, often moving deep into midfield and drawing defenders with him, in order to create and exploit spaces for passes, other teammates' attacking runs off the ball, Lionel Messi's own dribbling runs, or combinations with Xavi and Iniesta.
Under manager Ernesto Valverde, Lionel Messi played in a variety of roles.
Four years later, after Lionel Messi had won his first Ballon d'Or by a record margin, the public debate regarding his qualities as a player moved beyond his status in contemporary football to the possibility that he was one of the greatest players in history.
An early proponent was his then-manager Pep Guardiola, who, as early as August 2009, declared Lionel Messi to be the best player he had ever seen.
Lionel Messi initially received several dismissals by critics, based on the fact that he had not won an international trophy at senior level with Argentina, until he won his first at the 2021 Copa America.
Lionel Messi is in some ways the antithesis of his predecessor: where Maradona was an extroverted, controversial character who rose to greatness from the slums, Lionel Messi is reserved and unassuming, an unremarkable man outside of football.
Football journalist Tim Vickery states the view among Argentines is that Lionel Messi "was always seen as more Catalan than one of them".
Since 2008, Lionel Messi has won seven Ballons d'Or to Ronaldo's five, six FIFA World's Best Player awards to Ronaldo's five, and six European Golden Shoes to Ronaldo's four.
Over time, Lionel Messi established himself as their leading brand endorser; from 2008, he had a long-running signature collection of Adidas F50 boots, and in 2015, he became the first footballer to receive his own sub-brand of Adidas boots, the Adidas Lionel Messi.
Lionel Messi is a global brand ambassador for Gillette, Turkish Airlines, Ooredoo, and Tata Motors, among other companies.
Additionally, Lionel Messi was the face of Konami's video game series Pro Evolution Soccer, appearing on the covers of PES 2009, PES 2010, PES 2011 and PES 2020.
Lionel Messi subsequently signed with rival company EA Sports to become the face of their series FIFA and has since appeared on four consecutive covers from FIFA 13 to FIFA 16.
Lionel Messi was among the Time 100, an annual list of the world's most influential people as published by Time, in 2011,2012 and 2023.
Lionel Messi has over 450 million Instagram followers, the second highest for an individual and sportsperson after Cristiano Ronaldo.
World Press Photo selected "The Final Game", a photograph of Lionel Messi facing the World Cup trophy after Argentina's final defeat to Germany, as the best sports image of 2014.
In June 2021, Lionel Messi signed a five-year deal to become an ambassador for the Hard Rock Cafe brand.
Since 2008, Lionel Messi has been in a relationship with Antonela Roccuzzo, a fellow native of Rosario.
Lionel Messi has known Roccuzzo since he was five years old, as she is the cousin of his childhood best friend, Lucas Scaglia, who is a football player.
Lionel Messi enjoys a close relationship with his immediate family members, particularly his mother, Celia, whose face he has tattooed on his left shoulder.
Since leaving for Spain aged 13, Lionel Messi has maintained close ties to his hometown of Rosario, even preserving his distinct Rosarino accent.
Lionel Messi has kept ownership of his family's old house, although it has long stood empty; he maintains a penthouse apartment in an exclusive residential building for his mother, as well as a family compound just outside the city.
Lionel Messi keeps in daily contact via phone and text with a small group of confidants in Rosario, most of whom were fellow members of "The Machine of '87" at Newell's Old Boys.
Lionel Messi was on bad terms with the club after his transfer to Barcelona, but by 2012 their public feud had ended, with Newell's embracing their ties with Messi, even issuing a club membership card to his newborn son.
Lionel Messi has long planned to return to Rosario to end his playing career at Newell's.
Lionel Messi holds triple citizenship, as he is a citizen of Argentina, Italy, and Spain.
Lionel Messi has served as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador since his appointment in March 2010, completing his first field mission for the organisation four months later as he travelled to Haiti to bring public awareness to the plight of the country's children in the wake of the recent earthquake.
Lionel Messi has since participated in UNICEF campaigns targeting HIV prevention, education, and the social inclusion of disabled children.
Lionel Messi has invested in youth football in Argentina: he financially supports Sarmiento, a football club based in the Rosario neighbourhood where he was born, committing in 2013 to the refurbishment of their facilities and the installation of all-weather pitches, and funds the management of several youth players at Newell's Old Boys and rival club Rosario Central, as well as at River Plate and Boca Juniors in Buenos Aires.
Lionel Messi stepped in and paid the salaries of the three members.