Leo Messi, with two Ballon d’Or awards to his name (2009 and 2010), is the best player in the world. This modest Argentinian has speed, dribbling and shooting skills. But despite so many individual virtues, he is also a remarkable team player.
This Argentinian striker’s footballing career started in 1995 at Newell’s Old Boys, where he played until the year 2000. At the age of 13, Lionel Messi crossed the Atlantic to try his luck in Barcelona, and joined the Under 14s.
Messi made spectacular progress at each of the different age levels, climbing through the ranks of the different youth teams and then Barça C, followed by Barça B and the first team in record time.
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In the 2003-2004 season, when he was still only 16, Messi made his first team debut in a friendly with Porto that marked the opening of the new Dragao stadium. The following championship-winning season, Messi made his first appearance in an official match on October 16, 2004, in Barcelona’s derby win against Espanyol at the Olympic Stadium (0-1).
With several first team players seriously injured, the services of several reserve team players were called upon, and Messi became a regular feature of Barça squads. On May 1, 2005, he became the youngest player ever to score a league goal for FC Barcelona – against Albacete when Messi was only 17 years, 10 months and 7 days old. That record would eventually be beaten by Bojan.
At the Under 20 World Cup in Holland, Messi not only won the title with Argentina, but was also the leading goalscorer and was voted best player in the tournament. Aged 18 years, he had become one of the hottest properties in the world game. Shortly after, he made his first full international appearance in a friendly against Hungary.
His breakthrough as a player came in the 2005-06 season, starting with an amazing performance in the Joan Gamper Trophy match against Juventus. He was also outstanding at the Santiago Bernabéu, in Barcelona’s unforgettable 3-0 win, and also at Stamford Bridge, in the Champions League match against Chelsea. Injury kept him sidelined for much of the latter stage of the season. Messi played a total of 17 league games, 6 in the Champions League and 2 in the Copa del Rey. Messi scored eight goals.
The following season Messi moved up a gear and astounded the world with goals such as the one he scored against Getafe in the King’s Cup. In the 2006/07 season, and even though the team didn’t win any titles, the Argentine was second in the FIFA World Player awards and third in the Golden Ball. He continued to develop in the 2007/08 campaign, when he scored 16 goals and gave 10 assists in the 40 games he played in. In 2008, Leo Messi was runner up in the FIFA WORLD PLAYER AWARD for the second season in a row.
In the 2008/09 season, and now without Ronaldinho alongside him, Messi continued to be the main star of the Barça line up. He managed to stay injury free all season, and played 51 games, scoring 38 goals. The Argentinian was also fundamental in the two finals, scoring Barça’s second goals in both. El año 2009 ganó el FIFA World Player y Balón de Oro.
How far can Leo Messi go? He was the league’s top scorer in the 2009-10 season and equalled Ronaldo’s historic total of 34 goals (96-97). He scored the goal against Estudiantes de La Plata that gave Barça the Club’s first World Club Cup.
But without settling for that, the Argentinian went even further in the 2010/11 season, scoring no fewer than 53 official goals, a Spanish record only bettered by Cristiano Ronaldo (that very same season). Messi, like in Rome, played a vital role in the Champions League final at Wembley were scored a scorcher from outside the area to put his team ahead.
The season 2011/12 is when Messi moves past César Rodríguez’s record of 232 goals to become the Club’s all time top goalscorer. He achieves this on the 20th of March 2012 in a 5-3 victory over Granada in which he scores a brilliant hat-trick.
Messi also consolidated his place in the national side, now having played at two World Cups (2006 and 2010) and two Copa America (2007 and 2011) for Argentina. In 2008 he also went to the Olympic Games in Beijing, where his country won gold.