Lionel Messi Biography Facts, Childhood, Career, Life

Photo of FC Barcelona's captain, Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi (Barcelona's Captain Fantastic)

Lionel Andres Messi Cuccittini (born June 24, 1987) is an Argentine professional football player, who despite the odds against him, turns things around and brings out a miracle when it’s least expected. He captains and plays forward for Barcelona (Spanish club) as well as the Argentina national team. Ever since he was a kid, he has entertained many with his prodigious skills, amazing dribbles, astounding swiftness and powerful shots. Now a global icon, he still adds to the thrill of the beautiful game of football. We discuss the life of Lionel Messi, fondly referred to as the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) in our Lionel Messi biography facts, childhood, career and personal life. 

Our analysis includes Messi’s rise from being a football enthusiast at a tender age to now becoming the modern-age face-of-the-game, and how he overcame the seemingly insurmountable challenges that stood between him and his dreams.

Lionel Messi Biography Quick Facts, Age

Here are some quick biography facts you should know about the Argentine professional football player.

Full Name:Lionel Andres Messi Cuccittini
Nicknames:Messidona, La Pulga Atomica, Leo, La Pulga, Atomic Flea, Messiah
Born:June 24, 1987 (age 36 years)
Place of Birth:Rosario, Argentina
Zodiac Sign:Gemini
Height:5 feet 7 inches
Shoe Size:10
Weight:159 lbs (72kg)
Education:Las Heras Elementary school
Parents:Jorge Messi (father), Celia Maria Cuccittini (mother)
Spouse:Antonella Roccuzzo (married 2017)
Children:Thiago Messi Roccuzzo (son), Mateo Messi Roccuzzo (son), Ciro Messi Roccuzzo (son)
Occupation:Football Player
Current Club / Team:FC Barcelona,
Argentina National Team
Playing Career:2003–present

Lionel Messi Childhood & Early Life

Lionel Andres Messi Cuccittini was given birth to on June 24, 1987, in Rosario, Argentina, to a steel factory manager, Jorge Messi and his wife Celia Cuccittini. Messi was the third of four children they gave birth to. He grew up in a family where the game of football was adored.

Young Lionel Messi is posing with a ball in a photo taken around 1993
Young Lionel Messi in Argentina around 1993. Photo credit: The Messi Family

At a tender age, he played with his elder brothers before joining a local club, Grandoli, before moving on to Newell’s Old Boys. At Grandoli, Messi was coached by his father, but his grandmother accompanied him to his matches as well as training. He was thus affected by her. His unique style of celebration which involves looking up and pointing to the sky is a tribute to his late grandmother.

Young Lionel Messi celebrating a goal at Newell's Old Boys
Lionel Messi at Newell’s Old Boys at a tender age

Messi’s dream of becoming a professional footballer was threatened when he clocked 10 years. He was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. As a result of his family’s inability to bear the expense of his treatment, they resorted to football clubs who saw Messi as a potential to bear the cost. After several setbacks, Messi’s treatment cost was paid for by Barcelona. After his transfer to Barcelona, he did not make appearances regularly in matches due to transfer issues with Newell as well as the unusual signing of foreign plays by European Clubs. After joining the Royal Spanish Football Federation, he began playing for Barcelona. Upon completion of his growth hormone deficiency treatment, he became a force to reckon with in the Barcelona youth team.

Lionel Messi Club Career

FC Barcelona

Messi progressed through the ranks of Barcelona’s junior team, leading to his move to the senior team. He debuted for five teams in a season. During the international break, Messi was among the few players who helped strengthen the first team in the absence of the players. Messi finally debuted for the senior team at the age of 16. Messi’s wondrous performance earned him the friendship of Barcelona’s star Ronaldinho, who enabled him to have a smooth transition into the first team. His remarkable antics earned him a juicy contract in 2004 set to expire in 2012, the first professional contract he signed, had a buyout clause of 30 million euros which increased to 80 million euros.

In the 2004–2005 season, he became a regular starter in Barcelona’s B-team. However, he was a substitute player in the A-team, debuting for them in the league on October 16 against Espanyol. Messi signed a new contract with Barcelona as a senior team player on his 18th birthday. The contract was set to expire in 2010, with a buyout clause of 150 million euros. Messi caught the attention of European top clubs, one of such Inter Milan indicated interest in Messi, offering to triple his wages as well as pay his 150 million euros’ buyout clause. However, Messi opted to stay. In September of that season, his contract was updated and was set to expire in 2014. After acquiring Spanish citizenship Messi began playing alongside Samuel Eto’o and Ronaldinho forging a powerful attacking trio.

Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho and Rafael Marquez of Barcelona celebrating 2006 Spanish League win
From left to right; Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho and Rafael Marquez of Barcelona celebrating Barca’s defeat over Espanyol as they emerge victorious in the Spanish League — May 6, 2006 (Camp Nou). Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated

During the 2006–2007 season, at the age of 19, Messi became one of the best players in the world. Despite suffering injuries, Messi proved his similarity to Argentina’s legend Diego Maradona after several comparisons. A notable event which speaks of this truth was the 2006–2007 Copa del Rey semi-final against Getafe, where he scored a goal similar to Maradona’s 1986 FIFA World Cup goal dubbed as the Goal of the Century. Following the decline of Ronaldinho, Messi became Barcelona’s new star, with Spanish media calling him “Messiah”. He emerged second third in the 2007 Ballon d’Or and second in the FIFA World Player of the Year Award. Following the departure of Ronaldinho, Messi was given the no.10 jersey and signed a new contract with an annual salary of 7.8 million euros, Barcelona’s highest.

Lionel Messi scores a similar goal to Maradona’s 1986 FIFA World Cup goal
Lionel Messi scores a similar goal to Maradona’s 1986 FIFA World Cup goal which was dubbed as the Goal of the Century during the 2006–2007 Copa del Rey semi-final against Getafe. Photo Credit: Jordi Cotrina/AP

In 2008, he came second in the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year Award.

He However won the Ballon d’Or and FIFA Player of the year in 2009, at the age of 22. That season Messi had a successful campaign, winning the second consecutive La Liga title.

In 2010, Messi won the inaugural FIFA Ballon d’Or despite his failure at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Messi finished the 2010–2011 season as Barcelona’s all-time single-season highest scorer and the first player in Spain to pass the 50-goal benchmark. Thanks to his wonderful performance, Messi created a reputation for himself as a creator (no. 8), a scorer (no. 9) and an assistant (no. 10). He received the 2011 FIFA Ballon d’Or award as well as the inaugural UEFA Best Player in Europe Award. Due to his numerous achievements, Messi was regarded as one of the best in the history of the game.

Messi’s incredible form continued, in 2012, he was bestowed with the Guinness book of record title for most goals scored in a calendar year as well as the FIFA Ballon d’Or Award.

In the 2013–2014 season, Messi signed a new contract with Barcelona which will see him at Camp Nou until 2018. After Messi sustained an injury and deemed unfit for Barcelona’s champions league match against Bayern Munich, the Catalan Giant were defeated 7-0 on aggregate. Barcelona was heavily criticized for their dismal performance which shows their dependence on the Argentine star. His campaign that season was the worst he had in five years. He signed a new contract with Barcelona which saw his salary increase from 20 million euros to 36 million euros. Under the leadership of new coach, Luis Enrique. Messi became La Liga’s all-time top-scorer. He came second in the 2014 FIFA Ballon d’Or awards for the second time in a row. Messi established an attacking trio with teammates Suarez and Neymar which prove to be deadly to opponents. At the end of the season, he received the UEFA Best Player in Europe.

Lionel Messi poses with his 2015 FIFA Ballion d'Or award
Lionel Messi emerges world’s best player as he beats Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar to win the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2015.

In the 2015–2016 season, Messi became the youngest person to make 100 appearances in the champions league. Messi also helped Barcelona claim the 2015 Club World Cup Final, where he was awarded the tournament’s Silver Ball. Messi emerged a runner-up to Cristiano Ronaldo in the 2016 Ballon d’Or award as well as the 2016 Best FIFA Men’s Player Award, he also claimed the Pichichi and European Golden Boot.

Messi also had a spectacular and incredible performance in the 2017–2018 season, but not spectacular enough to earn him the Ballon d’Or award. Messi was handed the captaincy in the 2018–2019 season following the departure of Andres Iniesta.

Lionel Messi playing for FC Barcelona
Lionel Messi playing for Barcelona during the 2018 Mandela Centenary Cup, Johannesburg — 16 May 2018

Lionel Messi National Team Career

The ace footballer has scored 65 goals in 128 appearances for the Argentina National team. He, however, has failed to extend his successful run with Barcelona to the La Albiceleste. Though he has always put up a good performance, every time he leads the La Albiceleste to a tournament, they end up crashing out in the quarter-final, semi-final or final.

In the 2006 World Cup, Messi who was pretty young was part of the Argentine squad who were knocked out in the quarter-final. Eight years later, on South-American soil, Messi led the La Albiceleste to a wonderful run in the world Cup before seeing his World Cup dream dashed after a late lone strike by their German opponents. The Copa America tournament has also been the same, emerging runners-up successively.

Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrating after he scored for his team
Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates after he scored for his team against Bosnia-Herzegovina during the 2014 FIFA World Cup—15 June 2014 (Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). Photo credit: Sports Illustrated

Lionel Messi Family & Personal Life

Lionel Messi is known to be an introvert as well as a reserved individual.

Lionel Messi with his wife, Antonella Roccuzzo
Lionel Messi with his wife, Antonella Roccuzzo at the FIFA Football Awards 2017

He began his relationship with his wife who he had known since the age of 5, at the age of 20. They got married in Rosario, in 2017. They gave birth to their first son Thiago in 2012, their second Mateo in 2015 and last Ciro in 2018.

Lionel Messi, Wife, Children
Lionel Messi poses in an adorable family photo with his wife and children—2018. Photo credit: Instagram @leomessi

Messi has a tight-knitted relationship with his mother, Celia whose face he tattooed on his hand. Messi’s father has been his agent since the age of 14, while his elder brother manages his daily schedule and publicity, his mother and brother, Matias runs his charitable organization, The Lionel Messi Foundation. Since 2010, Messi has been a goodwill ambassador for the UNICEF.

Messi also supports grassroots football. He has an investment with youth football team Sarmiento, based in Rosario.

Messi has also had his fair share of tax evasion charges. In 2013, he was investigated for benefiting in a network of offshore companies to evade taxes. Despite pleading ignorance for the tax evasion charges, Messi was found guilty of tax evasion along with his father and was sentenced to a suspended 21-month prison term and fined 1.7 million euros and 1.4 million euros.

Lionel Messi Highlights, Achievements & Awards

Tournaments Won

  1. U-20 World Cup champion (2005)
  2. Spanish Super Cup (Supercopa) (2005/06, 2006/07, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12, 2013/14, 2016/17, 2018/19)
  3. Spanish Cup (Copa del Rey) (2008/09, 2011/12, 2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17,2017/18)
  4. FIFA Club World Cup (2009, 2011, 2015)
  5. UEFA Supercup (2009/10, 2011/12, 2015/16)
  6. Olympics Medalist (2008/09)
  7. Spanish Champion (La Liga) (2004/05 2005/06, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2012/13, 2014/15, 2015/16, 2017/18)
  8. UEFA Champions League (2005/06, 2008/09, 2010/11, 2014/15)

Individual Awards

  1. Golden Boot (2016/17)
  2. Striker of the Year (2014/15)
  3. Player of the Year (2014 World Cup, 2014/15 La Liga, 2015 Copa America)
  4. UEFA Best Player in Europe (2009, 2011, 2015)
  5. Top-scorer (2008/09, 2010/11 & 2013/14 Copa del Rey, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12, 2013/14 & 2014/15 UEFA Champions League, 2009/10, 2010/11 & 2011/12 Supercopa, 2009/10, 2011/12, 2012/13 & 2016/17 La Liga, 2011 FIFA Club World Cup)


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