Many football fans consider Lionel Messi to be the greatest football player of all time. The legendary forward’s extraordinary career has seen him reach heights that few footballers have before him.
But how well do you know the Argentine sensation?
Let us put you to the test and see if you’re familiar with these fascinating Lionel Messi facts.
1. Lionel Messi was born in Argentina in 1987.
Lionel Andrés “Leo” Messi Cuccittini was born on 24 June, 1987, in Rosario, Argentina, as the third of four children in a working-class family. His father worked as a factory steelworker, and his mother worked in a magnet manufacturing workshop.
2. He was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency (GHD) at the young age of 11.
Without intervention, his expected height would have been 4 feet and 7 inches. Unfortunately, the treatment was expensive, posing a financial challenge for his family.
3. His late grandmother took him to his first football pitch.
If you’ve ever watched one of Messi’s football games, you’ve probably noticed that whenever he scores, he raises his arms and looks up. With that gesture, he dedicates his goals to his late grandmother Celia, who was the first to notice his abilities.
4. At the age of 13, he signed a contract with FC Barcelona.
Messi was offered the opportunity to train at a football powerhouse La Masia, at FC Barcelona’s youth academy. So when they offered to cover his medical expenses for GHD, his family packed and moved across the Atlantic to Spain.
5. He scored his first goal for the Barcelona franchise at 16.
Three years after signing with FC Barcelona, he made his debut appearance. Then, on 1 May 2005, he became the youngest player in league history when he scored his first goal.
6. In 2009 he won his first FIFA “World Player of the Year”.
After leading Barcelona to great success and winning the Champions League, La Liga, and the Spanish Super Cup in the same year, he was awarded both the FIFA and the Ballon d’Or awards.
7. Messi has received 38 championship titles by Juli 2021.
The football player’s first major success came in the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup. The following are this soccer star’s team trophies by competition:
- La Liga – 10 trophies
- Spanish Super Cup – 8
- Copa del Rey – 7
- UEFA Champions League – 4
- FIFA Club World Championship – 3
- UEFA Super Cup – 3
- Copa América – 1
- Olympic gold – 1
- FIFA U-20 World Cup – 1
8. Messi has an impressive score of over 100 goals in UEFA club competitions.
Messi is second only to Cristiano Ronaldo in the overall list of top UEFA club competition scorers (Messi has 126, compared to Ronaldo’s 143), and top UEFA Champions League/European Cup scorers (Messi with 123, Ronaldo 140).
9. The 1st contract he signed was written on a paper napkin.
Carles Rexach, a famous FC Barcelona scout, travelled to Rosario, Argentina, to watch young Lionel Messi play football. He was so taken with his game and style that he wanted to hire him right away and wrote the first contract on a napkin.
10. He is Barcelona’s all-time top scorer with 672 goals.
Messi has incredible skills, and it’s no surprise that he was FC Barcelona’s all-time top scorer in 778 appearances since joining the club in 2004.
11. He won an Olympic gold medal in 2008.
Messi initially could not compete in the 2008 Summer Olympics because they overlapped with Barcelona’s UEFA Champions League qualifiers. However, when Pep Guardiola interfered, he was allowed to play. That year, Argentina, and Messi, won the Olympic Gold Medal.
12. The first player to score 5 goals in a Champions League match.
In 2012, he got in the record books as the first player to score five goals in a Champions League match. A few weeks later, he beat Cesar Rodriguez’s club record of 232 goals. Thus he became Barcelona’s all-time leading scorer.
13. He acts as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2010.
He is also popular outside the football pitch, as he is a goodwill ambassador who focuses on fighting for children’s rights across the globe using his fame and celebrity status for good purposes. He travelled to Haiti with UNICEF immediately after his appointment to raise public awareness about the plight of the country’s children in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake.
14. Leo Messi Foundation was formed in 2007.
Lionel runs his own charitable foundation that provides opportunities for disadvantaged youths, including supporting children’s access to education and sports.
As a result of his own costly medical treatment, he has also assisted Argentine hospitals in paying for similar treatment to his own.
15. Leo has performed an astonishing 55 hat-tricks by 2021.
No, Messi is not a magician. Hat-trick in football is when a player scores three or more goals in a single match. Of course, the Argentinian player has scored three or more goals in 55 matches.
And since he is still an active player, I guess we can expect more hat-tricks in the future!
16. He finally won his first international trophy at the Copa America 2021.
Argentina defeated Brazil 1-0 in the Copa America final, claiming the country’s first title in 28 years and the superstar’s first major international trophy.
Following the game, his elated teammates threw a tearful Messi into the air.
17. Barcelona and Messi separated after 21 years.
FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi had agreed, and both parties intended to sign a new contract, but because of Spanish LaLiga player registration regulations, this did not happen.
It was a difficult time for both fans and Messi, who announced his departure with tears in his eyes.
18. Lionel Messi’s debut for FC Paris Saint-Germain happened in front of 20,525 fans.
Messi signed a contract with PSG in 2021. For the final 30 minutes, the Argentina international took over for Neymar. Messi’s debut was broadcast on Spain’s free-to-air channel Telecinco, with about 2.2 million viewers tuning in.
19. Messi broke Gerd Müller’s 40-year old record.
Messi sent him a number 10 Barcelona t-shirt signed “with respect and admiration”. Gerd Müller, on his part, has described Lionel Messi as “an incredible player” and “the best player in the world”.
20. He entered the Guinness World Records in 2012.
He received a Guinness World Records title for the most goals scored (91) in a calendar year in competitive games. In addition, Messi scored a further 5 in friendlies over the course of the year.
21. His International debut lasted 47 seconds.
In 2005, he made his international debut, which lasted 47 seconds. In a match against Hungary, he was shown a red card after coming on as a substitute.
22. Messi was fined with 2 million euros for a tax fraud.
Messi and his father were found guilty of three counts of tax evasion by a Barcelona court in July 2016. Despite their denials, they were found guilty and sentenced to 21 months in prison. However, according to Spanish law, any first offence of less than two years is suspended, so instead of going to prison, they were ordered to pay substantial fines.
23. He has been with his wife for 14 years.
The famous number 10 has been together with his wife since 2008. He has known her since he was five years old. They got married in 2017 and have three sons.
They have mansions in Spain and now in France, but in his home in Spain, he upgraded the garden with a padel court.
Lionel Messi is, without a doubt, a fantastic footballer. So many people look up to him, and he is admired worldwide.
Nobody can deny his abilities, hard work, or success. He is also an excellent role model who is extremely kind and generous.
And if you didn’t already know these Lionel Messi facts, then we are confident that now you, too, are a fan.