Lionel Messi is the best Argentine football player of all time, and arguably the best football player the world has ever seen. However, there are a lot of things about his life that you might not know about.
In this article, we discuss the parts about his life that are not widely known, from his birth, childhood, and life before and after his fame in football.
Full Name and Birth
Though everyone knows him as Messi or Lionel Messi, his full name is Lionel Andres Messi Cuccittini. He was born on June 24th, 1987, in Rosario, the largest city in central Argentina.
His father is Jorge Messi, who worked as a steel factory manager, and his mother is Celia Cuccittini, who worked in a magnet manufacturing workshop.
He has Italian and Spanish ancestral roots on his father’s side, while he’s primarily Italian on his mother’s side. He has three siblings, and he is the third child of the four.
Messi grew up in a family that absolutely loved football. This meant that he was introduced to football at a very early age.
He used to play football with his elder brothers, Rodrigo and Matias, and his cousins, Maximiliano and Emanuel Biancucchi. Both his cousins became professional football players.
Messi joined his local football club, called Grandoli, when he was just four years old. He was coached by his father. He was also influenced by his maternal grandmother Celia, who used to come with him to his matches.
Messi was always small for his age. Even as a fully grown man, Messi is kind of short, standing at only 5 feet 7 inches in height.
Adrian Coria, the Newell’s Old Boys youth coach has said about Messi that when he first saw him at 12 years old, he would’ve thought that he was too small and fragile to play.
However, watching him play made him realize that he was different and was going to do something impressive.
Early Signs of Football Genius
After just two years of playing with the Grandoli, Messi joined the Newell’s Old Boys club when he was 6 years old. He was part of the team called “The Machine of ‘87” which was named after the year of their birth.
This team was practically unbeatable, and they used to do football tricks during halftime. Messi scored almost 500 goals with this team.
Messi idolized Brazilian footballer Ronaldo Luis Nazario De Lima growing up, as back then he was the best goal scorer of all time.
Messi called him “the best forward I’ve ever seen.” Ronaldo is now the owner of La Liga club Real Valladolid.
Messi’s family arranged a trial with Barcelona in the year 2000, when Messi was only 13 years of age. This became possible because they had relatives in Catalonia.
But European clubs did not sign such young foreign players back then, so an ultimatum was issued to Barcelona.
Interestingly, the first contract Messi got was not offered on paper. It was offered on a paper napkin as there was no paper available at the moment.
First Matches and Friends
Messi was so quiet in his initial time on the field that his teammates thought he was mute. This is because he could only be fielded in friendlies and the Catalan league.
This made him miss out on the complete football experience and made him homesick. After a year, Messi was enrolled in the Royal Spanish Football Federation.
This is where he started playing in all competitions and made friends with his teammates. Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique were some of Messi’s earliest friends in professional football.
Signature Celebration Move
Messi is widely known for celebrating every goal by looking up and pointing towards the sky.
This is a tribute to his late maternal grandmother, Celia. She used to come with him to his matches and practices and was an excellent influence on him when it came to his football career.
Growth Hormone Deficiency
Messi almost did not become a professional football player because he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency when he was only 10 years old.
This is why he was so tiny at a young age and still continues to be short as an adult. His treatment was interrupted because his family could not afford to pay for it.
It was planned to be paid for by Newell’s club and later by River Plate, but due to Argentina’s economic collapse, this could not be possible. Eventually, the treatment was paid for by the Barcelona club.
Early Club Career
Messi started playing in the junior Barcelona team, but his speed and skills led to him moving quickly to the senior team.
He was only 16 years old when he made his debut for the senior Barcelona team.
Even though Messi skyrocketed in his career with Barcelona and had multiple offers from different teams, he decided to stick with Barcelona.
A European club, Inter Milan, offered to triple his wages and pay his buyout clause of $178 million as well, but Messi turned it down.
United Nations Connection
Messi is the Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, which stands for United Nations Children’s Fund. He was appointed to the position in 2010 and received the honor in a ceremony held in Barcelona.
This happened not because of Messi’s superior abilities on the football field, but because of his determination to use his fame to help the world’s most vulnerable children.
Messi holds passports for both Spain and Argentina. Because of this, he was asked to play for the Spanish national team.
However, he turned it down because he wanted to represent his home country of Argentina.
All-time Top Scorer
Messi became the all-time top scorer of Barcelona at the young age of 24, in the year 2012.
Even today, he holds the record for the most goals scored for the club, amounting to 698.
El Clasico Records
El Clasico is one of the most sought-after matches in the world, where age-old rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid compete.
Messi holds the record for the most goals scored in El Clasico history, amounting to 26. The second position is held by Cristiano Ronaldo at 18.
Most Goals in a Calendar Year
In 1972, Gerd Muller scored 85 goals in a calendar year, setting a new world record.
Messi broke this record in 2012 by scoring 92 goals in a calendar year. This record is yet to be broken.
In 2016, Messi brought yet another record to his game. He became Argentina’s all-time top scorer with 55 goals in international tournaments.
He holds the record for the most number of goals scored in La Liga at 465, the Supercopa de Espana at 14, and the UEFA Super Cup at 3. He is also the player with the most official recorded assists in football history with 308.
Ballon d’Ors and Other Awards
Lionel Messi also holds the record for winning the most Ballon d’Ors in football history. The 33-year-old footballer has a record 6 Ballon d’Ors to his name. He also won the 2009 FIFA World Player of the year, as well as the 2019 Best FIFA Men’s Player Award.
He also won the World Soccer Player of the Year award in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, and 2019. Messi’s list of career achievements is never-ending.
European Golden Shoe
The European Shoe is a prestigious award that is presented to the top goal scorer in Europe. It is based on a weighted points system, which means that players who score goals in tougher leagues are awarded more points than their counterparts in weaker leagues.
Messi has won the European Golden Shoe award 6 times, which is a world record. Another record is that he is the only player to score 100 points in the weighted points system, which happened in the 2011-2012 season.
Lionel Messi is married to Antonela Roccuzzo. They have been married for three years, but have been together for over a decade.
Messi has three children with his wife, named Thiago, Mateo, and Ciro. He says that his kids have shaped and changed his outlook on how to live his life.
The Bottom Line
Lionel Messi is one of the best football talents the world has ever seen. His skills on the football field are out of this world, and his numbers speak for themselves. He holds world records in a variety of categories like total goals and assists.
Besides this, Messi is also the recipient of countless awards, including prestigious ones like Ballon d’Ors and European Golden Shoes. Messi was a prodigy at a very young age, and he did not let his small stature stand in the way of becoming one of the greatest footballers of all time.