Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini (born 24 June1987) is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a forward for Spanish club FC Barcelona and the Argentina national team.
- Visca Barcelona, Visca Catalunya and Visca Argentina, motherfuckers!
- Diego is Diego and for me he is the greatest player of all time. Even after a million years I am not even going to be close to Maradona. I have no intention of comparing myself with Maradona - I want to make my own history for something I have achieved.
- It doesn't matter if I am better than Cristiano Ronaldo, all that matters is that Barcelona are better than Madrid.
- After scoring four goals against Arsenal, 2011 
- Ronaldo (Brazilian footballer) was my hero. He was the best forward I've ever seen. He was so fast that he could score a goal from nothing and he struck the ball better than anyone I've seen.
- Being a dad changes everything for the better and I’m really enjoying it.
- Barcelona gave me everything, they took a chance on me when nobody else would. I never have any desire to play for anybody else, I will be here for as long as they want me.
- [Becoming a father] has changed everything. He [Thiago] comes first then everything else. It has also changed the way I see a match. Before if I lost or did something wrong I didn't talk to anyone for three or four days, until it passed. Now, I come home after a game, I see my son and everything is alright.
Quotes about Messi
- In the semi-final Messi showed he's the top man. He is only 20 as well, imagine how good he will be in the next 10 years. I'd love to play alongside him.
- He is from another planet. He is the main point of reference and the key man in the whole Barça team.
- To me, Messi is the greatest player in the world right now. He has got a fantastic vision of the game, and what he can do technically - it's just crazy. The things he can do with the ball - and at pace and top speed - is just amazing. What decides it for me is not his many goals, although his goal account is impressive, but the thing is that he can do so much for his team. What counts is the total amount of his many, many qualities. He is just the greatest.
- Messi is the best and cannot be compared to anyone. Messi cannot be compared to anything.
- When you face him you have to make decisions in an instant. When he approaches you, you have to make the sign of the cross and pray that everything will be alright.
- I’ve always said Messi is the best player in the world.
- People often say to me they saw Pele and Maradona play. In the future, I will be able to say I saw Messi play.
- Is Messi playing in the Champions League or is he playing a Playstation game?
- He plays like he’s on PlayStation, it’s unbelievable. People who say otherwise either don’t know anything about football or are just talking nonsense.
- Leo is from another planet. What makes him the best is that other great players have had ups and downs, like Maradona. He wasn’t half of what Leo is at Barça. Messi has had so many good years in his career that he deserves to be considered the best ever.
- Messi does not need his right foot. He only uses the left and he's still the best in the world! Imagine if he also used his right foot ... Then we would have serious problems!
- For years I thought that there would never be a player like Maradona. But now Messi is at his level.
- It’s something for me that I can tell my kids that I’ve played against Messi when we watch him on television. For me he’s got everything. He is magical to watch. When I finish and look back, and he will still be going strong, I will be able to say to myself I tested myself against the best. And quite clearly, for me, he is the best ever. He’s a great individual player but a great person as well and a credit to football.
- I am not crazy enough to compare myself with Messi because he is the best there ever was and the best there will ever be.
- He's a once in a generation player. I think it's unlikely that any human being again will repeat the numbers that Messi is getting.
- He's been by far and away the best footballer in the world for the last five or six years. He's the best player of all time and if he stays fit he will continue for the next five or six years. The things he does right now are out of this world. Of course, he doesn't play by himself, but he is simply incredible. He always finds a way and is always a yard quicker than everyone else. If you have a player like that on your side, you needn't fear anyone.
- I think Messi is the best in the world, a very good player and that he is a gift from god.
- Messi is class. There is him, and then there is the rest. What he does is extraordinary. He demands admiration.
- Messi is the best, for me, Messi is God, he is the best and always will be – for what he has given the team and for how much he has made me enjoy being in the same team as him.
- It's the efficiency that made the difference. Messi is fantastic, the best player ever.
- Lionel Messi is out of this world, he's an alien. For me, he is the best player in the history of football.
- Messi is God – you see him on the pitch and he is spectacular.
- Messi is unbelievable. It is great to get the chance to play against the best in the world. It doesn't really need repeating: he is a fantastic player.
- Lionel Messi. Oh… I think this guy is fantastic. He’s the best player I have ever seen in my life.
- Needless to repeat, that he’s the best player in the world, the best of all-time. I enjoy training with him, he makes everything easier.
- He's achieved so many great things and set the bar so high that practically nobody is ever going to reach it.
- Messi is the best player in the world. We'd have to kidnap him to stop him.
- Messi is so talented that 70% of the goals I scored at Barça came from his boots. With him in your team, you're calm.
- Having him as a rival is complicated. You see game after game that it is impossible to take the ball off him, impossible to stop him. There are no words to decribe his talent. For me, and as others have said, he is from another planet.
- Messi is out of this world. He is a special player and you can't compare him to me. It would be unfair to him.
- It's a gift. I haven’t seen any other player, at least during my career, who plays like Messi does. For me that makes him the best footballer in the world.
- For me, he's the best player in the world. That's football. Defending Messi one-on-one is not possible.
- Messi is the best player of all time, and today he had a stormer.
- The best striker I have ever faced? Lionel Messi. It has always been Messi.
- This award says I’m the best player in the world, but I’m not even the best player at Barcelona.
- I have seen the player who will inherit my place in Argentine football and his name is Messi. Messi is a genius and he can become an even better player. His potential is limitless and I think he’s got everything it takes to become Argentina’s greatest player.
- I see Messi every time he grabs the ball and accelerates. But he is shy, like a little brother who likes to hang out with PlayStation rather than talk. We must protect him. I'd personally put him in a drawer of my bedside table.
- The other day I saw one of his games. He was running with the ball at a hundred percent full speed, I don’t know how many touches he took, maybe five or six, but the ball was glued to his foot. It’s practically impossible.
- Leo floats over the field - sometimes you have the sensation he's not even there, that he's hiding. But he's there and the rival knows it.
- Messi is out of this planet, I would say he is so far ahead of the rest of the players playing right now and I would say historically as well. There are not words to describe him.
- Once they said they can only stop me with a pistol, but today you need a machine gun to stop him.
- For me, to watch Messi play is a pleasure – it's like having an orgasm – it's an incredible pleasure.
- When I see Messi playing, I think he should win the Ballon d'Or every year. I have no doubt. He is an unbelievable player.
- The ball stays glued to his foot; I’ve seen great players in my career, but I’ve never seen anyone with Messi's ball control.
- He is probably the best player of the last 20 years. He is such a slippery player. Because of his height and quickness he is difficult to pin down and his balance is exceptional.
- He is an exceptional talent. I still think Diego Maradona is the best player I have ever seen – but Messi is closing in fast. He's a wonderful sight in full flight and we are lucky to have him around.
- Leo is a virtuoso. He does things with the ball that just seem impossible. He's got great ability. His control of the ball when he is running at high speed is excellent. He has a superb shot. There is precision in his passing. To summarise... he's got everything. He has every single attribute you would want to find in a player.
- If Gary Lineker is saying that Messi is making him realise just how sh*t he was — then imagine how the rest of us feel.
- My record stood for 40 years - 85 goals in 60 games - and now the best player in the world has broken it, and I'm delighted for him. He is an incredible player, gigantic.
- His control and technique while going at full speed is unique in the world.
- Messi will be the player to win the most Ballons d'Or in history. He will win five, six, seven. He is incomparable. He's in a different league.
- For me, Messi is the greatest. I played with Romario, Rivaldo, Ronaldo, Michael Laudrup and Stoichkov but Messi is the best I’ve seen. He has evolved in a way that nobody could expect.
- When it comes down to natural talent there’s no one who’s at Messi’s level.
- Messi is better than Maradona; he is more complete, more consistent, more spectacular. He is reinventing the game – a mix of the real and the virtual.
- Messi is better than Maradona and Pelé. Every week he shows that he is capable of things that no one had done until now. Messi defies the laws of anatomy, he must have an extra bone in his ankle.
- I can't believe anyone can have played the game of football as well as Messi.
- I think now he’s probably done more than most players. But he is in the same class as Alfredo de Stefano, Johan Cruyff, Pelé. When he finishes and he retires, he will automatically become one of them. A player that people will talk about forever, while the game of football is as good and as popular as it is. He is a sensational player.
- Messi is simply the best player in the world. Messi is alone in his class as a player, it is impossible that there is another like him.
- Messi is the best player I've ever seen, better than Maradona and Cruyff combined.
- Messi is Maradona every day. He has played at the level of Maradona in 1986 for the past five years.
- I can only repeat what I have already said before and that is that Messi is the best in the world at the moment. It pains me to admit it, but it’s the simple truth.
- Newton and Einstein also had a certain level of autism. I hope that like them, Messi surpasses himself every day and continues giving us his beautiful brand of football.
- What’s really incredible is his consistency. It’s practically inhuman to keep going like him. What Messi has achieved, far outweighs what Cristiano has done.
- When Messi has the ball at his feet he can do things that you can’t imagine.
- There is only one player who is doing things that I could never do and that is Messi.
- He's the great player of this generation, like there were great players in other generations.
- Messi produces more pieces of exceptional skill in a single game than I managed in an entire career.
- Messi is a genius. He has everything. When I watch him I see a player who is very, very skilful, very clever and his left foot is like Diego Maradona's.
- Big congratulations to Messi, the magician, the artist, the genius. What more words can I use to describe this guy? Twenty-seven years old and broken the Champions League record from Raúl. Possibly one of the hardest players I’ve played against in my time in the game. The left foot. It’s beautiful. At the moment this guy’s taking liberties with everyone.
- There's a special part of Messi's brain allowing him to see the split-second chaos of football in his own personal super slow motion.
- Messi is really a different class. To win four consecutive Ballon d'Ors is a great achievement.
- The Messi of the early years was a phenomenon, but he always wanted to finish off the move. Now he goes past one, two or three players and is happy to give an assist to a team-mate - it makes him more dangerous and more difficult to stop than ever before.
- I am not ashamed to admit that in the games against Barcelona I spent a lot of the time just hoping he would take up positions as far away from me as possible.
- I think about the great players with whom I have shared a pitch: Eric Cantona, Zinedine Zidane, Pirlo, Xavi, Cristiano Ronaldo – and the greatest of them all is Messi.
- He's a problem solver, a game changer, the greatest player to have played the game. I am more than 60 years old now, and I don't believe that I've seen, or that I'm likely to see, anyone better in my lifetime. The world's best when I was growing up was Pele and he would have been a great player now, too, but Messi surpasses him. He's also way out ahead of Diego Maradona - it's not even close anymore.
- I was lucky enough to play with Zidane, Ronaldo, Figo, Cristiano... but Messi is different; he makes everything look so easy, so effortless – even the impossible.
- Messi makes the difference. I think he has reached and surpassed the level of Maradona.
- The best by far is Messi. Second is Maradona, third is Pele and Di Stefano. Fifth is Cruyff, Zidane or Pele.
- Messi is the real deal when it comes to No10s. He represents a type of football that transcends borders.
- Messi is the best in the world by far; for me, nobody comes close.
- Messi has been the best player of the last 10 years. He played at the same level for 10 years.
- I never ever thought I would say that there was a better player than Maradona since he was in my time and I was in awe of him, but I honestly think for a number of reasons that Messi has surpassed him. He can do anything that Maradona did, and he does it more frequently and consistently.
- He's head and shoulders above anyone I've seen. He's an alien. He's better now than he was four years ago because he reads the game better. He's unstoppable.
- Barcelona have a great team with one special player, Messi. He is able to unlock a game from out of nowhere. Cristiano Ronaldo has been putting in spectacular performances, but there really is no comparison with Messi. Messi is on another level than all the other players. He is the undisputed best. No player has the ability to do what he does.
- He can hurt you 40 metres away from goal, not because he takes the ball and starts dribbling past opponents, but because on top of that he can also create the definitive goal chance. The god of football started playing, he is unstoppable when he starts playing. If you think otherwise, ask Jerome Boateng or all those fantastic players that face him.
- Messi is the best I’ve ever seen. I don’t dish out praise lightly but Messi deserves it. I look for weaknesses in his game and I can’t find them.
- He really is from a different planet. Even if you are supporting another team you have to admit this.
- Messi is the Pelé of my generation. I don't understand the criticism of him. You cannot criticize a player like Messi.
- I heard an interview with Sir Alex Ferguson where he revealed his greatest players of all time. He said Messi was in a category of his own. I am a big fan of Diego Maradona but Messi is a phenomenon. His performances at club level are unbelievable. You can play a season or two like that, but not all these years. He set the bar very high from the start.
- I have never seen a player like him, with so much quality and audacity at his age, in a so important a stadium and with that shirt. He has everything. He has an extraordinary future - I'd love to bring him to Juve!
- When I see Messi - who is the best player in the world in my opinion - lose the ball, he runs off until he gets it back or commits a foul. Our guys lose the ball and fold their arms.
- If you're speaking of a fantasy player, then it has to be Leo Messi as he is so unpredictable.
- Messi is the best player I’ve seen in my life. Not just better but much better. Much faster. Much, much more skilful.
- I think he is certainly one of the best in the world and people are right to make comparisons with Diego Maradona. It’s amazing when you think he is still only 22-years-old. He’s just a fantastic player.
- Put in the superlatives yourselves, I'm running out. It's already been a while now that he has been outstanding. That he's capable of doing everything that he does at his age is something impressive, that doesn't make any sense.
- Messi has once again shown that he is a wonderful player and that he is, without doubt, the leader of Barcelona. He is the best player in the world and the best in the history of football. Along with Cruyff and Maradona, he is the best player we have seen at Barça.
- Tonight, I saw Diego Maradona, but at more revs per minute. There are no words left to describe him – he is interplanetary. We could have beaten Barcelona but we could never have beaten Leo Messi. If we had scored four, he would have scored 12.
- You cannot compare anyone to Messi. Cristiano Ronaldo is a great human player, but Messi is a Martian.
- I don't know the parameters for the Ballon d'Or. I only know that Messi deserves to win every trophy.
- Whoever plays football knows that there are no words for Messi. He is a category all of his own: the best player in the world, another galaxy.
- Messi is like an Oliver Twist character, picking a pocket or two, the Artful Dodger, where he’s just sort of slipping around, looking like a little lad in the playground. He’s not really taking it seriously, and he makes you smile every time he gets the ball. And when he does some of these things, I have to laugh because it’s not possible what he does. It’s wonderful to watch. It’s just wonderful to see. You’ve got to pinch yourself sometimes, it’s really amazing what he does.
- Look at Lionel Messi – he gets kicked every week. Everybody wants to kick Messi because it is the only way to stop him, but all he ever does is sort of smile, get up and get on with it, and then does it again.
- With respect to Leo, I don’t know what can I say. Nothing surprises me with him. He controls the game well, passes the ball well, he is a good finisher, he can press and recover the ball. He is a footballer that can do everything. He sees passes that most people can only see whilst watching the game on TV or in the stands, not ones that you can normally see on the field.
- When he gets going, he creates panic. You have to have a perfect game to stop him.
- He’s like a kid at school playing against a load of kids who can’t play, it’s incredible. It’s so silly; he’s on another planet, just amazing.
- Of course life is easier with Lionel Messi. He does all sorts of things. We see that every day. He is from another planet.
- I've never seen a better player than Messi. He's so good that he can even get around the three players you send after him and still notice the two teammates he has in space. It'll be hard to ever see another player like him.
- Messi has creativity, imagination, he can go straight for goal... He can pass like nobody else in the world. Messi is in another dimension.
- Messi is best player ever. Some say Pele, Cruyff or Maradona, but none of them was as decisive as Messi.
- Messi proves himself nearly every game. Despite his immense talent, he remains very modest. I like that in him and I respect Messi a lot.
- I feel sad when the best player in the world is chosen, and I see, for example, that the Portuguese coach -- my friend Fernando Santos -- does not place Messi among the top three. It's absurd. As a Portuguese man, I will say that Ronaldo is the best in the world. Messi is from another planet.
- Messi's ability to play at the highest level with Barcelona and their consistency is what wins them these titles.
- I applaud what he does and I hope the crowd enjoyed and will remember what he does. We are fortunate to be around while the best is playing. It is a pleasure to have him with us. Today was a real show. He is the best there is and there has been.
From media figures
- Simply stellar, proud and majestic. He is the re-incarnation of Maradona.
- You can forget the Little Donkey, the Rabbit, the Clown and all the other great pretenders, it's the Flea with the fast feet and fabulous control who gets closest to el Diego. He may not have the same the strutting confidence or the big mouth - in fact, he makes whispering Ted Lowe sound like a town crier - but there's definitely something about Messi.
- I have played against Platini, Maradona, Cruyff and played with George Best — a lot of big names, but none of them has been able to do what Messi does. Two years ago I said that the best player I played against was Maradona and the best player I have played with was Bestie. But I can now say I have never seen a player as good as Messi. He’s in a league of his own.
- They say all men are equal in god's eyes. This player makes you seriously think about those words.
- If he is so good, how can you express that? The superlatives ran out ages ago. On these pages, swearing has been tried. Or perhaps a symbol, something to signify that we have gone beyond words now.
- Are there any adjectives and superlatives left to describe little Leo? Messi is unstoppable and we should feel privileged to be watching a player who may be the best of all time.
- Here he is again ... here he is again .. that's astonishing, absolutely world-class!
- Messi saved football. There has never been such an overwhelming, devastating, decisive and unique player.
- At the Camp Nou Messi scored two brilliant goals, made a third and at times yawned his way around champion opponents like a man tactfully avoiding a gaggle of overheated toddlers in a high street coffee shop. Often he took the ball and shimmied past two or three men, operating within a kind of fermata, events slowed and paused around him, and providing a reminder that he remains one of the great dribblers, master of the flip-flap, the surge, the amphetamine-crazed-millipede shift of feet.
Lionel’s father Jorge Messi, instructed with officially naming his son Leonel, changed his mind at the naming place to Lionel because he liked it. Though it has been rumoured that Jorge was influenced by Lionel Ritchie, this is not true, and the English spelling of the name, Lionel, was one he thought looked nice. The decision came as a surprise to Celia, Jorge’s wife.
You can go on a tour of Messi’s home town
If you find yourself with time to fill in Argentina, you can go on a 24 hour tour of Messi’s hometown in Rosario.
He looks EXACTLY like his parents
He supports Newell’s Old Boys Club
Football runs in the family
After working his way through the youth ranks at Newell’s Old Boys, Jorge Messi (Lionel’s father) – a talented youngster at the time – left to do his military service. Lionel’s brother Rodrigo was an attacker for Rosario in intercity matches before a car accident forced him to retire and his brother Matias was a defender in Newell’s lower ranks but eventually gave it up, age 27, having failed to make an impression. His cousin Emanuel currently plays for Vasco de Gama in Brazil.
The above poster is by Marija Markovic.
Messi’s nickname is The Flea
Crowds would gather in his home town to watch Messi play when he was seven years old
Don Apa was a trainer in Rosario and looked after boys football from ages 4-12. He also claimed to be the first football coach to put Messi on a pitch to play. From Guilleme Balague‘s Messi:
"When we went to a pitch, people would crowd to see him. When he got the ball he owned it. It was incredible, they couldn’t stop him. Against Amanecer he scored one of those goals like you see in the adverts. I remember it well: he dribbled past everybody, goalkeeper included. How did he play? Like he plays now, with freedom."
Messi used to do keepy-ups for ice cream
Messi first row, second from the left.
When he was nine years old, Newell’s directors would ask Messi to practise his keepy-ups on the pitch. According to Guilleme Balague’s Messi:
"For every 100 touches, sometimes he got an ice cream. [Once] he made 1,100 touches and they gave him 10 ice creams"
Messi’s idol was Pablo Aimar
Star of Championship Manager 01/02. Later, Aimar would leave a message for him at the Ballon d’Or ceremony:
Messi signed for Barcelona aged 13
The agreement to sign Messi was made on a napkin
Contrary to rumour and popular belief, Lionel Messi did NOT sign his first Barcelona contract on a napkin. It reads:
"In Barcelona on 14 December 2000 in the presence of Messrs Minguella and Horacio Carles Rexach, technical director of FCB, commits to the signing, regardless of some opinions to the contrary of Lionel Messi, as long as the figures previously agreed are respected."
The real story is that then Barcelona Technical Director Charly Rexach was pushed into making a decision by other coaching staff on that particular day. The Messis had been flown over from Argentina for two weeks, making Lionel miss school, and had waited months to hear back from the club. To stop the Messi family worrying about his future, Rexach signed the only bit of paper he could find in the restaurant he was in at the time.
Bringing a 13 year old over from as far away as Argentina was unheard of at the time and the costs involved for such a young player, specifically Messi’s medical treatments, housing, and getting Jorge (his father) employment were substantially more than clubs would usually pay.
The napkin now hangs in the Barcelona museum.
Messi’s team-mates in his Barcelona youth side included Gerard Pique and Cesc Fabregas
Pique would later sign for Manchester United and Fabregas for Chelsea, but Messi would stay and work his way through the Barca ranks.
In one season Messi was promoted five times
Having joined Barcelona U-14s, two years later Messi would progress to U-18 level, followed by a fast track to Barca C, Barca B and finally the Barcelona first team.
And he made his debut in a friendly vs Porto
Jose Mourinho‘s Porto.
Messi had a growth hormone deficiency
Lionel Messi was very small as a child. Nicknamed “the dwarf”, aged 11 he was 1.32 metres tall, caused by a growth hormone deficiency.
"When I was 11 years old they discovered that I had a growth hormone deficiency and I had to start a treatment to help me to grow. Every night I had to stick a needle into my legs, night after night after night, every day of the week, and this over a period of three years. I was so small, they said that when I went onto the pitch, or when I went to school, I was always the smallest of all. It was like this until I finished the treatment and I then started to grow properly"
The cost of Messi‘s injections is what first forced the Messis to move away from Argentina, and Barcelona offered to pay for them as part of his contract. Messi’s Argentinian club Newell’s would not pay for the $900 treatment and Jorge Messi could not support the family on his salary while paying for this.
The decision seems to have paid off.
Messi was the face of Pro Evo back when Pro Evo was cool
Although he was originally the face of Pro Evo, Lionel Messi became the cover star of the FIFA video game series in 2013.
Messi became close friends with Sergio Aguero over their mutual love of Playstation football games
This isn’t the only reason they became friends but while playing for Argentina’s Under 20s side, Messi and Aguero were made to share a room and would sneak out to play Playstation after hours.
Messi would regularly win tournaments between teammates in his early years and would spend his down-time playing Playstation. Judging that he was born in 1987, this would make his football video game playing years coincide with the time that Pro Evo ruled the world, thus it can be assumed that like many people born between 1985-1990, Pro Evo was his game of choice.
As a youngster in Barcelona, Pablo Zabaleta (then at Espanyol) would also come to Messi’s house to play Playstation with him. Nowadays Messi plays Neymar at FIFA 15 online, according to the Brazilian.
Messi won the Under-20 World Cup in 2005
In a team containing Sergio Aguero and Pablo Zabaleta, Lionel Messi was the star.
He scored two penalties in the final
And was voted player of the tournament and won the golden boot
Other players to have won the Golden Ball include Diego Maradona, Sergio Aguero, and Robert Prosinecki. The latest was Paul Pogba.
Messi would stay behind after hours as a 13 year old to train more
Because the majority of his family moved back to Argentina after less than a year – the difficulties of learning Catalan and issues with Spanish working permits prevented brothers Rodrigo and Matias from gaining employment – proved too difficult to deal with in the end, and Lionel was largely isolated in his teenage years. His Dad stayed with him in Barcelona and was his only real friend at that time, and so after training at La Masia, Messi would stay behind to work on freekicks and technical skills, partly out of his love for the game, and partly because he had nothing better to do.
After winning his fourth Ballon d’Or, Messi said:
"I am used to being the last person to leave; I like being in the dressing room. What’s more, I don’t have anything better to do. I love football and training sessions are part of football."
Ronaldinho said Messi would be better than he was after the first training session
Giovanni Van Bronckhorst in Messi, by Guilleme Balague:
"Ronaldinho said in the first training session with Leo that this youngster was going to better than him. And people laughed. With Messi, you could already see it – I had never come to that conclusion so quickly before! Not even with [Bergkamp, Henry and Ronaldinho]."
Arsene Wenger believes Lionel Messi is the greatest player of all time
His first goal for Barca was unfairly disallowed
As Messi entered the pitch Ronaldinho, who had taken Messi under his wing, said:
"I’m going to set you up to score"
He duly did. Messi lobbed the keeper but the goal was ruled out for offside. Ronaldinho told him not to worry:
"I’m going to do it again"
Ronaldinho then provided the assist for a carbon copy goal
This time it counted.
Glasgow Rangers nearly signed Messi
In the Football Manager movie, Alex Mcleish reveals that the now defunct Glasgow Rangers came very close to signing Lionel Messi:
"He told me this guy was going to be the best player in the world and I said… OK son. And gave him a pat on the head."
Rangers enquired about taking Messi on loan aged 16 when Barcelona were dealing with passport issues that prevented him from playing in the first team. Eventually Messi’s Spanish nationality was approved and he was included in the squad, ruining Scottish football’s hope of seeing The Flea on regular occasions. Also, it was thought that having players like Lee Wilkie trying to smash him into pieces probably wasn’t good for Messi’s technical development.
Inter Milan nearly paid his €150m buyout clause
During that same phase of contractual instability, Inter Milan nearly bought Messi and were apparently not put off by the €150m buyout clause in his contract. Similarly interested parties are believed to have been Juventus, Real Madrid and Arsenal. [rolling eyes emoji]
Fabio Capello made Messi “a star”
It’s hard to think about it now, but there was a time when Messi’s world reputation wasn’t as the greatest player of all time. In a pre-season friendly tournament in the Nou Camp, Juventus played against Frank Rijkaard‘s Barcelona, prompting Fabio Capello to say:
"When I saw him he dazzled me. I seized the opportunity to ask my friend Frank (Rijkaard) if we could have him, even on loan. But he told me, no, no way, and that Messi would end up playing that same year for Barcelona."
Later he would offer his opinion on The Flea:
"Messi is a genius, someone who can win any game. For me he is among the greats in the history of football alongside Pele, Cruyff, Di Stefano or Maradona, even though he has not yet won a World Cup."
At the end of the Barca v Juve game, Capello told journalists that “a star had been born” and the media latched on to it. Suddenly everyone was talking about the little Argentinian at Barcelona.
Messi was sent off five minutes into his Argentina debut
The one and only time Lionel Messi has ever been sent off was against Hungary on his international debut. Substituted on in the 60th minute, then 18 year old Messi’s attempt to evade the shirt pulling of Hungarian player Vilmos Vanczak resulted in his outstretched arm catching his throat. The player made the most of the situation, right in front of the referee, and he was ordered off.
Argentina players surrounded the referee to argue that this wasn’t right or fair, especially to such a young boy on his debut.
Messi later told reporters:
"I dodged past the Hungarian, who was trying to grab me by the shirt. I got myself free the best way that I could and the referee interpreted it as an elbow. It left me really angry. I had minutes to play, but whatever happened, it was not how I had dreamed it."
Diego Maradona thinks Messi is quite good
"I have seen the player who will inherit my place in Argentine football and his name is Messi"
Messi was the third guest on Maradona’s TV show “La Noche del Diez”
Diego Maradona had a short lived series on Argentinian television where he would interview greats of sport, specifically football players like Pele, Ronaldo and Zidane. The third episode featured a then 18 year old Lionel Messi and a 20 year old Carlos Tevez.
Together, they beat Maradona and Enzo Francescoli at football tennis.
Messi doesn’t tend to dive
Messi wants the ball.
Messi does not appear in a single photograph from his first Champions League final victory
Having missed the 2005 Champions League final due to a series of muscle injuries in his thigh, Messi was so upset at not having taken part that he went to the dressing room to cry while his team-mates celebrated. Later he would join the team to enjoy the victory after Sylvinho, his close friend and mentor, talked him round, pointing out that without Messi, Barca would never have reached the final.
Messi still cries on occasion when he loses.
Gary Lineker likes him
Messi won the Ballon d’Or in 2009 with 473 out of 480 votes
Messi became the first player to win four successive Ballons d’Or
Pep Guardiola seems to rate him
"I’m sorry for those who want to occupy his throne. He is among the greatest in every sense of the word. He is capable of doing what he does every three days."
His potential ability in Football Manager is the maximum allowed
For any Football Manager nerds (like me) Messi’s hidden “potential ability” stat is 200, the maximum a player can ever reach. Ronaldo’s is 192.
In 2012, Messi scored 91 goals
Breaking a record set by Gerd Muller in 1972 of 85 goals, Messi scored his 91st goal of the calendar year against Valladolid.
He won an Olympic gold medal
In 2008, after persuading Barcelona to let him join Argentina’s Olympic squad, Messi won Olympic gold. The final was against Nigeria, the team his Under-20s side defeated in the World Cup previously.
Johan Cruyff likes him
"For the world of football, Messi is a treasure because he is a role model for children around the world. He is incomparable. He’s in a different league"
He’s broken a few records
He’s won a few awards
He’s won a few trophies
He (deservedly) won the Golden Ball in the Brazil World Cup 2014
Lionel Messi completely deserved to win the Golden Ball because he was absolutely brilliant
This won Best Sports Photograph of 2014
He is the best player of all time
There will never be another like Lionel Messi: an individualist who sacrificed everything to chase his dream of being a footballer, who grew up in one of the greatest club teams of all time, which was then built around his unique ability, and at time where he was challenged to the crown of “World’s Best” by one of the most outstanding footballers of any generation (Ronaldo).
In twenty years from now people will talk about Messi as though he were a fictional character. “Ronaldo vs Messi” is a competition that has undoubtedly driven both players to improve, but Ronaldo is compared only to Messi, whereas Messi is compared to the greats; how we wish we could watch Maradona and Pele take to a football pitch today instead of reliving their highlights on low res YouTube videos.
And on that note, may I recommend you take the opportunity to watch Leo Messi play as much as you possibly can, while you can.
"We all know what Leo Messi is. He is without doubt the best player in the world, but also the best in the history of football."