Born in Argentina, with a growth hormone deficiency, everyone who knows Lionel Andres Messi Cuccittini, knows that he is legit the G.O.A.T. On his 31st birthday, let’s take a look at some of his life-defining moments.
1. Rosario, Argentina
On 24th June 1987, a legend was born in the little town of Rosario, Argentina. Lionel Messi is the third of the four children of Jorge Messi and Celia Cuccittini.
2. Newell’s Old Boys
A steadfast supporter, Lionel Messi started playing for Newell’s Old Boys at the age of 6. In the six years that he played for the club, Messi scored 500 goals as a member of ‘The Machine of ‘87’.
3. Growth Hormone Deficiency
While playing at Newell’s Old Boys, Messi was diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency. After two years, when his father’s health insurance was exhausted, Newell’s agreed to help them out, only to go back on their word.
4. La Masia
In September 2000, the Messi family received a call from their relatives in Catalonia. They had arranged a trial with FC Barcelona. Carles ‘Charly’ Rexach immediately wanted to sign Leo, but due to some hesitation amongst the board of directors, he couldn’t sign Messi. On 14th December, when Barcelona were asked to take a final decision, Carles Rexach having no paper at hand, offered a contract on a tissue paper. Finally, in February 2001, Lionel Messi and his family moved to Catalonia.
5. The Argentinian
Being an Argentine-Spanish national, Messi was eligible to play for both the countries. After the RFEF, Spanish Football Federation offered him to play for Spain, Messi refused them and went on to play for the Albiceleste in 2004. Towards the end of 2005, Messi’s performances for Argentina drew a comparisons with Diego Maradona, who led Argentina to the World Cup glory in 1979.
6. Messi and Aguero
They first met when they were called to play for Argentina U17s in 2005 and since then, they have been close friends. Years later, in 2009, when Aguero’s son Benjamin was born, Messi was named his godfather.
7. FC Barcelona Debut
A debut that would change the face of football forever, Messi came on as a substitute in the 82nd minute against Espanyol. At 17 years, three months, and 22 days old, he was at the time the youngest player to represent Barcelona in an official competition. He scored his first senior goal on 1st May 2005, against Albacete, from an assist by Ronaldinho, becoming – at that time – the youngest-ever scorer for the club.
8. The First Hat-trick
Eleven years ago, Lionel Messi made his debut in El Clasico with a perfect hat-trick that denied Real Madrid 3 points. Dribbling through the Madrid defence before unleashing a power-packed strike into the corner to equalise with Real Madrid, the match ended with the arrival of a talent that would redefine scoring prowess.
9. The Messi Family
When Messi was 20 years old, he started dating Antonella Roccuzzo, his fellow native from Rosario, Argentina. Leo and Anto have 3 kids together – Thiago (5 y/o), Mateo (2 y/o) and Ciro (9 months old). After dating for almost a decade and having 2 kids, Lionel Messi and Antonella got married in a beautiful ceremony in Argentina.
10. World Cup 2014
Ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, doubts rose over Lionel Messi’s form due to an injury-laden season with Barcelona. However, as the World Cup finals began, Messi’s form improved with strong performances. From group stage to the semi-finals, Messi and co. gave it their all, leading Argentina to the finals against Germany. Having come so close to the most coveted trophy in the world of football, the underdogs faced major disappointment when they finished the tournament as runners-up.
11. The G.O.A.T
After losing the World Cup to Germany in 2014, Lionel Messi bounced back in a way nobody could have imagined. In 2015, Messi went on to win the most coveted trophy of Ballon d’Or or the UEFA Player of the Year award for the fifth time. No other player in the world has achieved this feat. Being called the greatest of all time, Lionel Messi has broken and rewritten records throughout his professional career as a footballer.
12. World Cup 2018
With the ongoing 2018 Russia World Cup, hopes are riding high for Messi and co. as the entire world is intrigued to see whether the World Cup 2014 Runners-up will finally be able to lift the golden trophy? This question can only be answered with time but no matter what the results are, Lionel Messi is and always will be the greatest player of his generation.