The Rise of Lionel Messi: The Ultimate World Beater

Lionel Messi has been a phenomenon for the best part of the past two decades. His level, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo’s, has been unmatched in the entire planet. With 6 Ballon d’Ors to his name, he has propelled himself and cemented his place at the top of the pantheon of football greatness. 

Lionel Andrés Messi was born to Jorge Messi, who was a steel Manager, and Celia Cuccittini, who worked for a magnet manufacturing workshop. When he was six years old, he joined Newell’s Old Boys and he scored almost 500 goals for the near-unbearable youth team. However, his dream as a professional footballer was almost ended when he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency at the age of ten. His parents could not afford his long-term treatment. Newell’s decided to help them out but broke their promise. Indeed, River plate – one of the clubs to scout him – wanted to contribute, but could not eventually due to the economic collapse of Argentina. 

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His time in Barcelona

At a time when it was highly unusual for European clubs to sign young foreign players, the first team director at Barcelona wanted to sign him, but the board was reluctant. They eventually signed him – even though the contract was offered on a paper napkin! In his first year in Catalonia, with his contract conflicts with Newell’s, he was unable to get regular game time. In his second year in Spain, he was finally enrolled in the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF). During the 2003 – 2004 season, Messi was promoted to the first team and at the age of 16 years, four months, and 23 days old, he made his first-team debut as he came on as a substitute against Mourinho’s Porto team. His performance greatly impressed the technical staff, and he started training with the reserve and first team. His talents were so quick to advertise themselves that even star player Ronaldinho predicted that he would go on to surpass him as a player. He signed his first professional in February 2004 and he made his La Liga debut during the 2004 – 2005 season. His first senior goal, however, was scored on 1 May 2005 against Albacete. The assist was provided by Ronaldinho and at the time, was the youngest goalscorer in the club history. He also made his UEFA Champions League (UCL) debut against Shakhtar Donetsk that season. He won his first UCL title in the 2005-2006 season even though his season ended prematurely during the return leg of the match against Chelsea as he tore his hamstring.

Gradually, he began to establish himself as one of the best players in the world. During the 2006-2007 season, he would score 17 goals across 36 games in all competitions. However, it was in the 2008-2009 season he truly stepped up to be the best player on the planet as he won the treble, the FIFA player of the year award, and the Ballon d’Or. He scored 38 goals in 51 games that season. He was also the UCL champions league’s top scorer for the season. According to former Arsenal coach, Arsene Wenger, “Messi is the best player in the world by some distance. He is like a PlayStation.” He won his third UCL title in the 2010-2011 season – where he was voted the final’s man of the match and his third FIFA Ballon d’Or. He ended that season with 53 goals and 24 assists in all competitions. 

However, he would take his game to another level in the 2011-2012 season as he scored 73 goals and 29 assists across all competitions, earning him his fourth consecutive FIFA Ballon d’Or award. He would finish the year with a record-breaking 91 goals. In the 2014-2015 season, he won his fourth UCL title as he became the season’s top scorer alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar with 10 goals. He would win his second treble – which is unprecedented in Spanish football. He finished the season with 58 goals and his partnership with Neymar and Luiz Suarez (popularly nicknamed MSN) contributed 122 goals – an all-time Spanish record. In December 2019, Messi would win his record-breaking sixth Ballon d’Or award and his first FIFA the best award. 

As of the time of writing, he has scored almost 750 career goals and 358 assists – absolutely mind-blowing statistics. Yet, his game goes beyond these statistics. Players, managers, and fans of the beautiful game across the globe have exhausted all adjectives to define the otherworldly talents of Messi – he breaks records for fun. 

How does his national team career compare?

Even though he is his country’s all-time top scorer and top assist provider, he remains without a senior title with his country. However, as of the time of writing, he will appear in the Copa America final match against Brazil. Alongside the world cup, this represents the only trophy missing in an otherwise exceptional career. 

What are Lionel Messi’s records and how do they compare?

With so many great players to have graced the sport, Lionel Messi remains one of the greatest of all time. The only player of his generation, and possibly in football history, that can claim to have similar records and career success is Cristiano Ronaldo. Messi’s records are numerous. Some of them include:

  • Guinness World Records for the highest Calendar year goals – 91 goals
  • The player with the most Ballon d’Or – 6
  • The player with the most goals in a season in Europe – 73 goals
  • All-time top scorer for Argentina – 76 goals
  • All-time assists maker for Argentina – 53 assists
  • Football’s all-time assist maker – 358 assists
  • Barcelona’s all-time goal scorer – 672 goals
  • The player with the highest goals for a single club – 672 goals
  • Barcelona’s top assist maker – 305 assists

Messi has proven himself multiple times – with his unprecedented and incredible records – that he is not only the best player of his generation, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo but one of the most complete and greatest players in the history of the sport.