Happy Birthday Lionel Messi
Published: 01:05 PM, 24 June 2021 Updated: 01:06 PM, 24 June 2021
Lionel Andrés Messi; Photo: Collected
Lionel Andrés Messi, who came into the football world as a floppy-haired young player, later known as ‘The Magician’ of football, turned 34 on Thursday.
Messi, at the age of 13, was signed by then Barcelona’s Technical Secretary Charly Rexach, who gave the current Barcelona captain his first contract on a paper napkin. The wonder boy from Argentina then joined Barcelona’s youth academy ‘La Masia’ to nourish his skills.
He made his debut for Barcelona on November 16, 2003, at the age of 17, against RCD Espanyol, and has gone on to represent the Catalan side ever since.
Messi has won 10 La Liga titles, 4 Champions League titles, 6 Copa del Ray titles, 3 Club World Cup titles, and 3 European Super Cups.
On his birthday, his fans from across the world took to social media to wished the star and made the #HappyBirthdayMessi trend on Twitter.
The record six-time Ballon d’Or winner was born on June 24, 1987, in Rosario, the third of four children of Jorge Messi, a steel factory manager, and his wife Celia Cuccittini, who worked in a magnet manufacturing workshop.
Growing up in a tight-knit, football-loving family, “Leo” developed a passion for the sport from an early age, playing constantly with his older brothers, Rodrigo and Matías, and his cousins, Maximiliano and Emanuel Biancucchi, both of whom became professional footballers.
Messi’s footballing career started in 1995 at Newell’s Old Boys, where he played until the year 2000.
However, his future as a professional player was threatened when, at age 11, he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. As his father’s health insurance covered only two years of growth hormone treatment, which cost at least $1,000 per month, Newell’s agreed to contribute, but later reneged on their promise.
At the age of 13, Messi moved from Argentina to Spain after FC Barcelona agreed to pay for his medical treatments. There he earned renown as one of the greatest players in history, helping his club win more than two dozen league titles and tournaments.
In 2012, he set a record for most goals in a calendar year, and in 2016, he was named Europe’s Ballon d’Or winner for the fifth time. ‘The Magician’ awarded Ballon d’Or winner for the sixth time in 2019 at a star-studded ceremony in Paris.
The Barcelona and Argentina superstar is widely revered as the greatest player of all time in many quarters, while others will debate that profusely.
But few stars have enjoyed such a decorated trophy haul as his, with his mantelpiece carrying nine La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues, six Copa del Reys, three Club World Cups, seven Spanish Super Cups and of course five FIFA Ballon d'Or and five golden boots.
Messi also won the Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Although he is famously quiet and private off the field, Messi has found ways to help others in need. In 2007, he formed the Leo Messi Foundation to provide opportunities for disadvantaged youths. In early 2010, UNICEF named him a goodwill ambassador, with a focus on fighting for children’s rights across the globe.