Lionel Messi is undoubtedly one of the greatest footballers of this generation. Some even call him the greatest footballer of all time. There have been many comparisons with Portuguese superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo. Messi has won almost all accolades at club level. He has been with Barcelona for his entire career and has been their most crucial player over the years. Messi is the first footballer from Argentina to win the FIFA Player of the Year award an astounding four times. While everyone knows the talent that Messi possesses, there are 15 facts about him that may surprise you. Let’s find out what they are.
#15. He has known his partner since he was five years old. Messi met Antonella Roccuzzo when he was only five. Even though Messi moved to Spain, they kept in touch and got into a relationship in 2009. Their son, Thiago Messi, was born in 2012. Antonella is a model and the couple stays away from the limelight as much as possible.
#14. Messi was born in the same city as Argentinean revolutionary, Che Guevera. Messi was born on 24th June, 1987 in Rosario in Argentina. This place used to be known as Che Guevera’s birthplace. However, today the city has become synonymous with the name of Lionel Messi.
#13. Messi holds Spanish and Argentinean passports. He refused the offer to play for Spain as he feels more Argentinean even though he has spent most of his years in Spain. Although Spain has managed extremely well without Messi, one wonders how they would have fared with him in their ranks.
#12. Messi is known for his footballing skills and his amazing heart. He uses his name and wealth to help the less fortunate. His Leo Messi Foundation started in 2007 gives children opportunities for the best education and medical attention.
#11. Barcelona was so impressed by the young Messi that they did not want to waste time offering him a contract. His first contract was written on a paper napkin by Barcelona coach Carles Rexach and that proved to be the best decision ever.
#10. It is common for footballers to ink themselves, however Messi was not always known for that. He has inked his son, Thiago’s name and his hand prints tattooed on his left calf. Wings and a heart were later added.
#9. Messi was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency at the age of 11. His parents could not afford his treatment. When Barcelona signed him as a wonder kid, they paid for his treatment at the best hospital in Spain. Although the treatment worked, Messi is one of the smallest footballers around standing at 5 feet 6 inches.
#8. Messi’s international debut came against Hungary as a substitute in 2005. However, his international glory lasted just 47 seconds as he was sent off for an elbow to Vilmos Vanezak’s face.
#7. Messi still holds the record for the most goals scored in a calendar year. He scored 86 goals in 2012 and broke the long standing record of 85 goals scored by Gerd Muller in 1972. Messi scored 56 La Liga goals, 13 Champions League goals, 3 Copa Del Ray goals, and two goals in the Spanish Super Cup. Another nine goals were scored for Argentina, which took his tally to 86 goals.
#6. Messi’s son Thiago was signed by Newell’s Old Boy’s Supporter’s club just 72 hours after he was born. The agreement was made between Thiago’s grandfather, Jorge, and the club. Thiago was given a full club kit with his name printed on the back and his father’s number 10 printed at the back.
#5. Messi has been the recipient of many golden boot awards through his career. Not many know that his left foot also created a golden boot. A solid gold cast made of his left foot was created by Tokyo jeweler Ginza Tanaka to celebrate Messi’s fourth Ballon d’Or award. This boot was created to raise funds for the tsunami victims and Tohoku earthquake in 2011. The golden boot sold for $5.25 million.
#4. Messi is the only player in the world to win four Ballon d’Or awards and the first player to win three European Golden Boot awards. Ronaldo became the second player to join him in the club last season.
#3. There are many clubs who are huge admirers of Lionel Messi. Every club in the world would love to buy the player. However, Barcelona has set a release clause of £250 million in his contract. This has detracted top clubs from approaching Barcelona to buy him.
#2. Messi became Barcelona’s all time leading goal scorer at the age of 24 in 2012. He achieved this amazing feat in just eight seasons and broke the previous record of 232 goals scored by Cesar Rodriguez. As it stands today, Messi is way ahead of the chasing pack and it does not look like anyone will catch him anytime soon.
#1. Many footballers have their favorite teams that they manage to score against quite easily. However, that is not the case for Messi. In the 2012-13 seasons, he scored against all 19 teams bagging 33 goals in 21 games.