Lionel Messi is considered one of the best players in the world today. Football fans all around the world praise him for his playing style, and by far, he is one of the most exciting football players to watch on the field. However, with talent comes many admirers as well as haters.
It is a well-known fact that, despite whatever Messi achieved, he will always be pitted against the former Manchester United Winger Cristiano Ronaldo. Despite the comparison, Lionel Messi has always proved himself and has proven time and time again what an outstanding player he is.
Messi plays as a forward or attacking midfielder because of his outstanding ball control and pace. These have allowed him to be a terrific player on the field, and is a delight to watch when he has control of the ball.
However, Messi’s story before he made it big in Barcelona was fraught will hardship, and he could have ended his career even before he made his entry into the prestigious club. Even though he showed great aptitude as a football player when he was a child, at 11, he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency that threatened his football career. However, he managed to overcome this condition and went on to become a successful football star.
Lionel Messi was born on 24 June 1987 in Rosario, Santa Fe. He had three siblings, two of whom were older than him and one younger. His father was Jorge Messi, a steel factory manager. Messi’s mother was Celia Cuccittini, an employee at a magnet manufacturing workshop.
His father was of Italian and Spanish descent, and his mother was primarily Italian. He grew up in a tight-knit family that loved football. Due to their familial interest in the game, Messi developed a passion for it and played it with his brothers, Rodrigo and Matias, along with his cousins Maximiliano and Emanuel Biancucchi from a very young age. Both his cousins, Maximiliano and Emanuel Biancucchi became professional footballers, but none of them reached the fame Messi did.
At four years old, Lionel Messi joined a local football club called Grandoli. His father coached him at this club and started to build his abilities. Despite his dad being such an important person in his journey, his earliest influence was his maternal grandmother, Celia.
She used to accompany him to all of his training and matches. When she died, he was deeply affected by it. Since then, he would look up and point at the sky when he scored a goal. Therefore, paying tribute to his grandmother.
Lionel Messi’s future of becoming a professional footballer was becoming more and more plausible when his coaches noticed that he wasn’t growing. Endocrinologist Diego Schwarztein, who advised the Newell Old Boys medical team, was called asking for his opinion.
After a medical appointment, various tests were carried out to find out the issue. The first problem was that the doctors could not decide whether Messi was a diminutive boy or whether there was something medically wrong with him.
The doctors eventually concluded that he had a growth hormone deficiency that prevented him from entering puberty. The treatment was extremely expensive, and his family could not afford it. With his father’s health insurance, the family could only pay for two years of growth hormone treatment costing $1000 per month. His sports club, Newell, agreed to contribute, but later received their offer.
The only solution was to transfer Messi to a club that would pay for his treatment. He was scouted by River Plate, a Buenos Aires club, but they declined to pay for his treatment. The next option was to present Messi to Barcelona. Lionel Messi had relatives in Catalonia, who arranged for him to have a trial with Barcelona in September 2000.
Barcelona, their first team director, Charles Rexach, in particular, wanted to immediately sign him. However, the board of directors were a bit more hesitant because it was not common for European clubs to sign foreign players that were that young.
However, they soon came around, and they signed Messi to the club. Rexach was so eager that he offered the contract on a paper napkin and agreed to pay for his growth treatment. Due to this transfer, Messi and his family had to move to Barcelona, where they lived in an apartment.
After his growth treatment completed at age 14, he became an important member of the Baby Dream Team. This youth team was Barcelona’s greatest ever. During his first full season of 2002-2003, he was a top scorer and scored 36 goals in 30 games.
A week before the final, Messi had broken his cheekbone in a league match, but he was desperate to play. He was allowed to by his coaches on the condition that he would wear a plastic protector. However, he took it off and scored two goals within ten minutes. Later, he was asked to return, and a substitute was sent in.
His Journey Through Clubs
After his fourth season with Barcelona, in 2003-04, Lionel Messi started to rapidly improve and he rose through the club’s ranks at an astonishing speed. He also debuted for five youth teams within a single campaign. Something which is unheard of.
At 16 years, Lionel Messi made his first-team debut in a friendly match against Jose Mourinho’s Porto. The match took place on 16 November 2003, and he came out in the 75th minute. His performance impressed everyone, including the technical staff. Thus, he began training daily alongside the reserves, Barcelona B. He also trained weekly with the first team.
On June 24, when he turned 18, Lionel Messi signed his first contract as a senior team player. According to this contract, he would be a member of the Barcelona team until 2010. Even though this contract was two years shorter than his previous one, the buyout clause was much higher than his previous one and was stated to be 150 million Euros.
He played his breakthrough game on 24 August, during a Joan Gamper Trophy, where his performance was well received. It was after his performance that Inter Milan made a bid on Messi. They were willing to pay a transfer fee of 150 million Euros and triple his wages. Despite this offer being extremely tempting, Messi decided to stay, and even updated his contract and extended it to 2014.
Messi had always been plagued with muscular injuries that often re-occurred and prevented him from playing. He suffered a hamstring strain in 2013, during the first quarter-final against Paris Saint Germain. Due to his injury, he was seen sporadically. He continued to battle against various injuries and sustained further damage to his hamstring, which resulted in his goalscoring streak ending.
Messi’s form was widely speculated over in the 2013-14 season, and people believed he was resting up for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. His overall contribution in goals, shots, and passes had dropped significantly, and people had started to doubt his capabilities.
The campaign ended with Messi having his worst output in five seasons. He had still managed to score 41 goals in all competitions. It was also the first time in five years that Barcelona had ended the season without a major trophy which was a huge blow to Messi. He was booed by many fans and there were also speculations about his future with Barcelona.
However, in May 2014, his salary increased to 20 million Euros after tax, which is the highest wage in sports.
On 1st July 2021, after countless major awards and many goals scored, Messi’s contract expired, and due to financial issues at Barcelona, he was unable to stay at the club, and in a tearful press, he announced that he would be leaving Barcelona.
After he departed from Barcelona, Lionel Messi signed a deal with the French club, Paris Saint-Germain. This deal is for two years and will end in June 2023. Messi also has an option to extend the deal if he wants.
Messi made his debut with his new club on 29th August and came in as a substitute in a match against Reims in Ligue 1. Paris Saint Germain won the match 2-0. Since his debut match, he has played many games, but his performance is still far from what it was at his peak. He has failed to make double-figure league goals for the first time since 2005-2006 and ended his recent campaign with only six goals under his belt.
Lionel Messi has achieved many awards throughout his football career. One of the biggest collective awards he has won was at the Summer Olympics in 2008, when he played for Argentina. He has also won seven Ballond’Or awards, the most any football player has ever won.
Other awards include the 2009 FIFA World Player of the Year, 2019 The Best FIFA Men’s Player, and the UEFA Men Player of the Year Award. Messi has also been the recipient of the European Golden Shoe six times. This award is awarded to the top goal scorer in Europe. The award is given out on the bases of weighted points, and he managed to snag the award in the 2009-10, 2011-12, 2012-13, 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19 seasons.
Lionel Messi is a fantastic football player, but he too has had his fair share of difficulties. With injuries, health issues, and rather difficult childhood, he has managed to refine himself and become a star footballer. Even though there are many out there who doubt his abilities and question whether or not he is better than other players, they cannot deny that he has unmatched determination and skill.
Throughout his career, Lionel Messi has faced injury after injury, but he has overcome each and every one of them and has come out stronger than ever.