Luis Lionel Andres “Leo” Messi, born on June 24, 1987, in Rosario, Argentina, demonstrated an early passion for soccer. As a young boy, Messi fearlessly joined in when his elder siblings engaged in soccer matches with their friends, without any hesitation or discouragement by their larger stature. At the age of 8, he caught the attention of Newell’s Old Boys, a club in Rosario, and was enrolled in their youth program.
Despite being noticeably smaller than his peers, Messi’s growth was obstructed by a diagnosed hormone deficiency. In a bid to address this, his parents, Jorge and Celia, initiated a nightly routine of growth hormone injections. However, the financial strain of the medication led them to a difficult decision.
At 13, an opportunity arose for Messi to train at FC Barcelona’s youth academy, La Masia, with the team covering his medical expenses. This prompted Messi’s family to relocate to Spain, marking the beginning of his remarkable journey. Despite initial homesickness, Messi swiftly ascended through the ranks of Barcelona’s junior system.
His stature, standing at 5 feet, 7 inches (1,70m), coupled with his speed and relentless attacking style, drew comparisons to the legendary Diego Maradona.
Lionel Messi Club Teams: FC Barcelona, PSG, and Inter Miami
Messi’s illustrious career includes a 17-season stint with FC Barcelona, followed by a two-season chapter with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in 2021. Subsequently, in June 2023, Messi declared his intention to join Inter Miami in Major League Soccer (MLS).
Messi’s journey with FC Barcelona began at the age of 13, and he made history at 16 by becoming the youngest player to score for the club. His impact on the team was profound, with notable achievements in 2009, including the Champions League, La Liga, and Spanish Super Cup titles. Messi’s relentless pursuit of excellence earned him the FIFA World Player of the Year and Ballon d’Or awards.
Messi’s dominance extended to the international stage, where he played a pivotal role in Argentina’s victories in prestigious tournaments like the Copa del Rey. His ability to shine in both domestic and international competitions solidified his reputation as a big-game player.
Throughout his career, Messi has worked with notable managers who have played a crucial role in shaping his playing style and the success of the teams he played for. From Pep Guardiola to Luis Enrique, these managers contributed to Messi’s development into a football maestro.
The Messi-Ronaldo rivalry, a saga that has captivated football fans globally, added a layer of drama to his career. Whether facing off in El Clásico or competing for individual awards like the Ballon d’Or, Messi’s contrasting style with Cristiano Ronaldo has fueled debates and defined an era in football.
Beyond the accolades, Messi’s statistics are staggering, encompassing goal-scoring records, assists, and individual achievements. Lionel Messi’s career highlights include:
- Appearances: 1,046
- Goals: 821
- Assists: 361
During his remarkable 17-year tenure at FC Barcelona, Messi won an astonishing 34 titles, including La Liga, UEFA Champions League, Copa del Rey, and more. This unparalleled success further solidifies Messi’s legacy as one of the greatest footballers of all time.
In 2021, financial constraints and La Liga restrictions led to Messi’s departure from FC Barcelona. Subsequently, he signed with PSG, reuniting with former teammates Neymar and Kylian Mbappé. Despite successes in Ligue 1, Messi’s time at PSG concluded in June 2023.
Following this, Messi embarked on a new chapter with Inter Miami in MLS, signing a 2.5-year contract in July 2023. His impact on and off the field was immediate.
Argentina National Team
Messi’s journey with Argentina’s national team has been a rollercoaster. While achieving success at a young age in the FIFA U-20 World Cup, his efforts to secure a major title for Argentina faced criticism. Despite being named the player of the tournament in the 2014 World Cup, Argentina fell short against Germany in the final.
Messi briefly retired from the national team in 2016 but returned for the 2018 World Cup. Unfortunately, victory eluded him, and his criticisms of referees resulted in a three-game ban. The turning point came in 2021 and 2022 when Argentina triumphed in the Copa America and the FIFA World Cup, with Messi earning accolades as the Best FIFA Men’s Player.
Lionel Messi Tax Fraud Scandal
In 2013, the shadows of suspicion fell upon Lionel Messi’s financial dealings as he faced an investigation for suspected tax evasion. Intricacies emerged involving offshore companies in tax havens Uruguay and Belize, orchestrating a scheme that allegedly evaded €4.1 million in taxes linked to sponsorship earnings between 2007 and 2009.
The saga extended to an unrelated shell company in Panama, revealed in the Panama Papers data leak of 2012, which was subsequently linked to the Messis. Messi, maintaining his innocence, voluntarily settled the alleged arrears, paying a staggering €5.1 million in August 2013.
Fast forward to July 6, 2016, the pivotal moment arrived as Lionel Messi and his father were found guilty of tax fraud. While sentenced to a suspended 21-month prison term, a provision in Spanish law spared them from incarceration. Instead, fines totaling €1.7 million and €1.4 million were imposed on Lionel Messi and his father, respectively.
In his defense before the judge, Lionel Messi asserted, “I just played football. I signed the contracts because I trusted my dad and the lawyers, and we had decided that they would take charge of those things.
Lionel Messi’s Philanthropic Ventures
Beyond the football pitch, Lionel Messi’s life is woven with philanthropic endeavors, starting with the establishment of the Leo Messi Foundation in 2007. Triggered by a poignant visit to a hospital for terminally ill children in Boston, Messi decided to channel part of his earnings to support healthcare, education, and sports initiatives for children.
Messi’s partnership with UNICEF, beginning in 2004 and solidifying with his appointment as a goodwill ambassador in March 2010, exemplifies his commitment to global causes. Undertaking field missions, such as his impactful journey to Haiti after the earthquake, Messi advocated for the rights and well-being of children. He actively participated in UNICEF campaigns addressing HIV prevention, education, and the inclusion of disabled children.
His personal foundation became a beacon of hope, providing research grants, financing medical training, and investing in the development of medical centers worldwide. In a unique approach, Messi’s global “Messi and Friends” football matches and endorsement agreements with companies, notably Adidas, fueled the financial support for his foundation.
Locally, Messi’s investment in youth football in Argentina showcased his commitment to nurturing talent. Supporting clubs like Sarmiento and contributing to the development of facilities, Lionel Messi’s influence extended to his boyhood club, Newell’s Old Boys, where he funded the construction of a new gymnasium and dormitory within the stadium for the youth academy.
His generosity further manifested in legal battles, as Lionel Messi won a libel case against La Razón newspaper, donating the awarded €65,000 to the charity Médecins Sans Frontières. In times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, Messi’s contributions soared, including a €1 million donation split between Clinic Barcelona Hospital and his native Argentina.
In 2021, ahead of the Copa América, Messi’s altruism took a strategic turn. Donating signed shirts to Sinovac Biotech, Lionel Messi aimed to secure 50,000 doses of Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine, CoronaVac, with the aspiration of vaccinating all South America’s football players. This move, brokered by Uruguay’s president Luis Lacalle Pou, stirred some controversy amid the broader vaccine scarcity in the region.
Lionel Messi’s impact transcends football, leaving an indelible mark through legal trials and charitable endeavors alike.
Every child has the right to grow up healthy.Every child has the right to grow up healthy.