Top facts about the best footballer in the world, Lionel Messi
During the last year, Lionel Messi secured his sixth Ballon d'Or award after yet another brilliant season for the Argentine.
The 32-year-old saw off competition from the likes of Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo and Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk to win the prestigious award.
The following are some amazing facts about Messi to prove that he is definitely one of the best in the world!
Messi’s name and nicknames
Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini was born in Argentina in 1987. His father, Jorge Horacio, was a blue-collar steelworker. He also coached the local youth football club for his sons.
Lionel is a diminutive of Leon, which in Latin means “lion.” But, Leo or Lio? The story behind the legend’s name is among the interesting facts everybody is interested to know about the best footballer in the world.
There are no doubts for Messi's parents. Jorge and Celia baptized him as Lionel, not by some Argentine soccer player, but by his father's iconic singer, Lionel Richie.
In 1987, the year that Lionel was born, the most popular songs in Argentina were the romantic ballads of the American composer, Lionel Richie. Although as a music legend, Richie never thought that his name would also be immortalized in the world's most popular sport.
Some of his nicknames include the Flea, La Pulga, and the Goat.
First contract on a paper napkin
Another top fact about Messi is that the man who helped Barcelona discover Messi admitted that he signed him on a paper napkin (preserved in a frame) when he was just 12 years old because he was too talented to let go.
Messi and his father, Jorge, were close to deciding against Barcelona in favor of Real Madrid when the executive Carles Rexach took matters into his own hands.
"His father felt that things were not all too clear and told me they would leave," he said. "I decided to sign him on a paper napkin that a waiter gave me because I couldn't let him get away."
Growth hormone deficiency
In fact, Messi’s first contract, signed on a napkin, was to pay for his medical treatments.
Messi has been diagnosed with a growth hormone disorder or GHD. It is often called idiopathic short stature, but there are problems that go beyond being shorter than average. The treatments were expensive, a $900 monthly expense that his modest family could not afford.
River Plate and Newell's Old Boys, storied Argentinian clubs, passed on that expense despite the promise of a very young Messi.
The treatments were injections of human growth hormone. For someone with GHD, this is a life-changer, allowing them to not only develop greater height, but also help deal with a variety of internal issues, such as pituitary function, skin and teeth problems, poor vision, and lower immunity.
Although the use of HGH is banned in almost all sports, amateur and professional, there are two exceptions that need to be clarified.
First, Messi's use was likely discontinued after he reached adulthood. Messi could also apply for a therapeutic use exemption.
A therapeutic use exemption is granted for a player's use of a banned substance when that substance is considered medically necessary. Messi did not use HGH as a performance enhancer but he was using a prescribed treatment.
It was not till Carles Rexach, a Spanish Catalan footballer and the sporting director of FC Barcelona, came to the rescue that Messi’s career was secured. The man was aware of the young boy’s talents and thus offered help.
A controversial fact about Messi is that he is rumored to be on the autistic spectrum. There are unconfirmed reports that Messi was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (a pervasive developmental disorder on the autistic spectrum) at the age of 9.
This could disclose to some extent his exceptional sporting talent, and his unwavering focus on football, as those with Aspergers have been observed to interact differently with the world than others. Common traits include social difficulties, repetitive behavior, and on occasion extreme skill in specific areas, which could account for Messi’s remarkable ability on the pitch.
Messi grew up with two older brothers Rodrigo Messi and Matías Messi, and would always try very hard to keep up with them.
He is quoted as saying, “I’ve always had a great relationship with my two brothers, I have always had their support in my football and in everything. They’ve been very close to me and we have a great relationship.”
The three brothers have one younger sister named María Sol Messi.
Lionel Messi and his father, who managed his financial affairs, had some drama with tax law in 2016. They were not aware of the tax laws that governed Spain, so they had to pay millions of Euro to the government. They were each handed prison sentences for tax evasion but were pardoned in court.
Messi's financial affairs came under investigation in 2013 for suspected tax evasion. Offshore companies in tax havens Uruguay and Belize were used to evade €4.1 million in taxes related to sponsorship earnings between 2007 and 2009.
An unrelated shell company in Panama, set up in 2012, was identified as belonging to the Messis in the Panama Papers data leak. Messi, who pleaded ignorance of the alleged scheme, voluntarily paid arrears of €5.1 million to the authorities in August 2013.
On 6 July 2016, Messi and his father were both found guilty of tax evasion and were given suspended 21-month prison sentences and fines equivalent to €1.7 million and €1.4 million, respectively.
Messi met his wife when he was only five years old and in June of 2017, he married his childhood friend, Antonella Roccuzzo in what was called the "wedding of the century.” The two have known each other all their lives, meeting in Argentina. Messi and Roccuzzo had two sons together, Thiago and Mateo before they got engaged.
Messi’s lavish wedding had over 260 guests at a luxury hotel. Many of the attendees were professional soccer players and other celebrities; Neymar, Luis Suarez, Cesc Fabregas, Javier Mascherano, and Carles Puyol, Pique, and Shakira were among the guests at this extravagant, star-studded wedding.
The Barcelona captain has gradually added to his tattoos over the years, with family being a key subject throughout the artwork. His right arm and left leg are predominantly covered in tattoos.
The only tattoos that can be found on Messi's left leg are a picture of his son Thiago's handprints along with the first-born child's name on his calf, as well as the number 10, which he wears for both club and country, and a football on his shin.
In 2018, Messi began filling his right leg just above the ankle with the names and birth-dates of all three of his sons: Thiago, Mateo, and Ciro.
At the top by the shoulder is a picture of Jesus Christ in a crown of thorns, probably inspired by his religious beliefs.
On the inside of his bicep, there is an eye, perhaps based on that of his wife Antonella Roccuzzo, though it is unclear, and a small crown.
One of the first tattoos Messi got was the face of his mother, Celia, on his left shoulder blade.
Messi’s net worth
It is estimated that Messi is worth $80 Million, making him one of the highest-paid athletes of all time. However, he said to reporters, “My motivation comes from playing the game I love. If I wasn’t paid to be a professional footballer I would willingly play for nothing.”
Messi has a lifelong endorsement deal with Adidas. The company paid him $27 million to be in their commercials and ad campaigns.
In order to raise money for the victims of the 2013 earthquake and tsunami, Messi donated a casting of his foot, which was turned into a golden statue. The golden foot was auctioned off for $5.25 Million.
He established the Leo Messi Foundation, which helps kids who are born with illnesses get medical treatments if their families cannot afford to help them. Messi is also a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF.
Messi donated almost a million dollars to rehabilitate a children’s hospital in his hometown of Rosario, Argentina. This covered repairs to the building, new machines to monitor and treat childhood cancer, and extra medical training for the doctors.
First League Debut
After he proved himself as a talented footballer, he received an offer from Frank Rijkaard, a Dutch football manager, and former player, to play his first debut league against RCD Espanyol.
It is a famous sports club in Barcelona known for its football.
Messi was only 17 years old when he got his first start and he owes it to Rijkaard. But, his international debut only lasted 47 seconds and he was sent off because of a red card after coming on as a substitute.
In September 2005, Messi played for Argentina in the 1-0 World Cup qualifier against Paraguay.
The teen was able to earn a very difficult and important penalty for his team.
Messi proved his talent through this achievement.
He also called this World Cup his “re-debut.”
It was in the annual Spanish football tournament Copa del Rey that Messi proved he was just as good as Maradona.
During the semifinal match against Getafe CF, a Spanish La Liga club based in Getafe, he scored two goals.
One of these goals was like Maradona’s famous Goal of the Century that he scored in the 1986 World Cup, which was held between England and Argentina in Mexico.
Everything about that goal was similar to the goal Maradona had made 21 years earlier.
The famous Messi got a new title: Messidona, a combination of the names.
Lionel Messi was able to replicate another Maradona goal against England in the quarterfinals of the World Cup, which is known as the Hand of God in his match against RCD Espanyol in the 2006-07 season.
He dodged the goalkeeper, Carlos Kamen, and made a remarkable goal.
Even though the opposing team protested that it was a handball, the goal was allowed.
Back-To-Back Hat Tricks
Starting from January 2010, Lionel Messi scored many hat tricks in his matches against different teams and won all these matches.
He was the first player of the Barcelona club who had earned such an achievement.
Messi scored hat tricks against Valencia and Real Zaragoza, becoming the first Barcelona player to score back-to-back hat tricks in La Liga.
He scored his 100th goal for the club during the season of 2009-10 and participated in the 200th official football match for his club against CA Osasuna in 2010.
In general, more than 100 players have scored at least a hat-trick. Lionel Messi has scored 35 La Liga hat-tricks, making him the player with the most hat-tricks in the La Liga history
Messi’s iconic goal celebration
The most often recognizable Messi celebration is that he frequently points a finger on each hand towards the sky as he makes his way back to the center-circle.
Regardless of whether he celebrates his goal with another gesture or symbolic act, Messi tends to repeat the skyward trait as well, and it's not one he's likely to give up any time soon.
Celia Olivera Cuccittini is the person to whom each and every one of those goals is dedicated: Messi's grandmother, who passed away in 1998 since it was she who encouraged the young Leo to play, she who took him to matches and who thus played a huge role in shaping the path of perhaps the greatest-ever footballer.
As an extremely talented player, Messi has won more trophies than most football players will ever dream of. Indeed, he is the best player on the planet who plays for Barcelona, where winning trophies has become a tradition.
The Argentine maestro won his first Ballon d’Or 11 years ago in 2009 and since then he has gone on to take the award in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, and 2019, collecting a total of 6 Ballon d’Ors so far.
Moreover, Messi has won his sixth European Golden Shoe, awarded to the player with the most league goals in any of Europe's top-flight leagues. Messi's 36 goals in 34 games in LaLiga Santander this season meant that he finished three ahead of Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe.
Since his first match for Barcelona in 2004, Lionel Messi has won a whopping 30 trophies.
His other achievements include Champions League trophies, 10 La Liga titles, 6 Copa Del Reys, 3 UEFA Super Cups, and 3 FIFA Club World Cup.
Messi’s educational background
Messi studied in an elementary school in Naraynganj, Bangladesh. He then went to Las Heras for elementary school. Since Messi started playing soccer at a very young age, he did not have the opportunity to attend college; meanwhile, his potential has been identified by FC Barcelona.