The Argentinean, often regarded as the best football player in the world, has been an inspiration for millions. Lionel Messi, the left-footed player with impeccable skills and class is an illusionist of football. The outstanding player of this generation, Messi is the only footballer in history to win five FIFA Ballon d’Or awards, four of which he won consecutively, and a record-tying four European Golden Shoe. He is not only a football player but also a global sports icon.

Currently one of the highest paid and socially followed players of the world had a rough start initially. In his childhood, Messi was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. At the age of 13, the miracle kid relocated to Spain to join Barcelona, who agreed to pay for his medical treatment. After completing his medical treatment at the age of 14, Messi became an integral part of the “Baby Dream Team”, Barcelona’s greatest-ever youth side. As the Messi’s family had relatives in Catalonia, they sought to arrange a trial with Barcelona in September 2000.

First team director Charly Rexach immediately wanted to sign him, but the board of directors hesitated; at that time it was highly unusual for European clubs to sign foreign players of such a young age. After spending a year at Barcelona’s youth academy, La Masia, Messi was finally enrolled in the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) in February 2002.

After showing his magical game at Barcelona’s youth academy, Messi made his competitive debut at the age of 17 in October 2004 against Espanyol. On his 18th birthday (24 June 2005), Messi signed his first contract as a senior team player. It made him a Barcelona player until 2010, two years less than his previous contract, but this time his buyout clause increased to €150 million.

On the other hand as a dual Argentine-Spanish national, Messi was eligible to play for the national team of both the countries, but Messi chose to play with Argentina. Just after five days of his 17th birthday, on 29 June, he made his debut for his country against Paraguay.

Initially, when Messi started his professional career, he had some physical constraints. But with his strong determination and with the help of his trainer, Messi returned to the squad in improved condition for the World Youth Championship, hosted by the Netherlands in June 2005. Since then he has never looked back. He evolved as one of the finest football talents that shook the world of football.

A prolific goal scorer, Messi is known for his finishing, positioning, quick reflex, and an ability to attack skilfully, beating the defense line. Despite being injury-prone during his early career, he established himself as an integral part of the club and the international team.

His life is far from that of a quotidian world that understates his brilliance, but Messi accepted more responsibility than ever for Barcelona in the last season and thrived. While there may have been just one trophy to show for his efforts, there were countless memorable moments to add to the Messi showreel. Pep Guardiola rightly said, “Don’t write about him and don’t try to describe him. Just watch him”.

Share with us your favorite moments of Messi. #LiveTheGame

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