“He plays off his left foot, he almost doesn’t need a right foot – mind you, he can score perfectly well with his right foot – but he weaves through spaces that don’t exist. He’s like a slippery eel.”- Peter Drury

Luis Lionel Andrés Messi is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a forward for Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain and the Argentina national team (where he is the captain). It isn’t misleading to say that Leo Messi is one of the best players to have played the round leather game because his records speak for themselves. Messi has won a record of seven Ballon d’Or awards, a record of six European Golden Shoes, ten La Liga titles, seven Copa del Rey titles, and four UEFA Champions Leagues to mention but a few. Messi was born on June 24, 1987, in Rosario, Argentina. He often played football with his elder brothers and their friends without intimidation. At the age of 8, he was recruited to join the youth system of Newell’s Old Boys, a club based in Rosario, Argentina.

Having a smaller stature than most of the kids in his age group, Messi was eventually diagnosed by doctors as suffering from a hormone deficiency that restricted his growth. Messi’s parents, Jorge and Celia tried to help their son by getting him some growth-hormone injections but it was eventually unaffordable for them.

So, at the age of 13, when Messi was offered the chance to train at FC Barcelona’s famous youth academy, La Masia, and have his medical bills covered by the team, Messi’s family quickly made the move across the Atlantic to make a new home in Spain. Although he was often homesick in his new country, Messi moved quickly through the junior system ranks and made his competitive debut aged 17 in October 2004. As the years rolled by, Messi established himself as a mainstay in Barcelona’s first team with 35 trophies to show for it. He was a part of the sextuple and treble-winning sides under Luis Enriqué and Pep Guardiola respectively. His name became a famous one on the lips of the people of Catalonia as he proved time and time again that he is one of the greatest footballers ever.

The two lessons worth noting in Lionel Messi’s life are as follows:
First, he didn’t allow himself to be intimidated: While growing up, Messi played football with older kids without any fear. His height didn’t help matters as he was so short that he was often referred to as a dwarf but even that was not an excuse as “Leo” played his football and showed the world what he has to offer. Secondly, for years, an international trophy was one major part where the greatness of Messi was always questioned. Year after year, competition after competition, “Leo” knocked on the door with no joy. He came so close to winning the world cup in 2014 but Mario Gotze made that impossible. On Sunday 11th July 2021 (in Nigeria), Lionel Messi won his first international trophy, finishing the competition as the highest goalscorer and joint- most valuable player with Neymar Jr.

Today, Lionel Messi is married to Antonella Rocuzzo with 3 children: Matteo, Thiago, and Ciro. He now plays for Paris Saint Germain after his contract with Barcelona ended last summer. He’s one of football’s highest earners with a salary of around £620,000/week. By his own standards, he’s had a slow start to the season with just 7goal contributions in 11 games. He’s a 7-time Ballon d’Or winner with his latest triumph coming on Monday 29th November 2021.

Written by : Joshua Fabiyi

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