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The 35 moments in Messi’s life: from his origins as a footballer to his World Cup illusion

Lionel Messi at La Masía, Barcelona's quarry.  photo file

Rosarigasino. Barely 13 years lived Leo Messi in Argentina: since his family settled in Barcelona It has been in Europe for 22 seasons. The last one in Paris and the rest in Spain, where Catalan predominates. He did not lose a nuance of his Rosario phonetics nor did the accent stick to him.

needles. At one time, if little Messi slept in someone else’s house, the first thing he did when he arrived was to go to the refrigerator: he left the medication that he applied at night. The intensive treatment he allowed The flea gaining height involved daily injections that, for two years, he gave himself every night. One dose to the right quadriceps, the other to the left.

Height. The treatment used gave results: in 30 months he grew 29 centimeters. Almost one centimeter per month in two and a half years. Today he measures 1.70 meters and they predicted a height of no more than a meter and a half.

Lionel Messi at La Masía, Barcelona’s quarry. photo file

Contract. Messi’s first contract with Barcelona it was of Jorge, his father. The club hired him as a “match informant”, with a salary according to his functions that completed annual income of 60,000 euros, at a rate of 5,000 per month. Lionel was 14 years old.

Free pass. That document was essential for Lionel to sign with Barcelona: FIFA urged Newell’s release his pass since the juvenile was in that European city with his family and was assisted by the right to live with his father, who had a formal job in Spain.

Napkin. But the first of the contracts was informal: on a napkin and bears, among others, the signature of the sports director Carles Rexach, who saw him in a friendly playing with older boys and did not want to miss what he saw. “Under his responsibility and despite some opinions to the contrary, he agrees to sign the player Lionel Messi as long as we keep the agreed amounts,” says the text on the napkin displayed in the museum.

lionel messi contract napkin

lionel messi contract napkin

Calcium. Those who missed that opportunity were the Italians: the What, a club from the north of the Italian peninsula, did not commit as Barcelona did with the income that allowed the family to settle in the country and pay for treatment. Before, River that didn’t do much to unlock Newell’s pass.

Course. Between 2001 and the first half of 2003 he played as a youth player, without First Division aspirations. The beginning of the 2003-2004 season was different: from Juvenil B to Juvenil A. He then made his debut with Barcelona C of the Third Division of Spain, later Barcelona B and finally to the superior team.

Multi-awarded. What follows with the Catalan club is known by all: 7 times the Ballon d’Or, 6 FIFA awards for the best player in the world and the same number of Golden Boots. In 2020 he was the first footballer -and the first Argentine- to receive a Laureus award, an award given to the best athletes in the world.

All the trophies won by Lionel Messi at Barcelona. Photo: @fcbarcelona

Club champion. With Barcelona he won 35 titles, including 10 from La Liga, 4 UEFA Champions League and 7 Copas del Rey. At Paris Saint Germain, he won the local title in his first season.

Pichichi. In 2012 he scored 86 goals and entered the Guinness Book of Records for having scored so many times for the same club. Thanks to those celebrations, he was a scorer in La Liga, the Spanish Super Cup and the European Super Cup, as well as being the non-European footballer with the most goals in the Champions League.

Recordman. Records, for Messi, are a habit. The last one was achieved in the last friendly against Estonia thanks to the five goals: he surpassed Ferenc Puskas in the historical table of national team scorers. Leo has 86 goals in 163 games with the Albiceleste.

Lionel Messi the day he turned 20. Photo Juano Tesone (archive)

Break nets. Of those goals, 39 were in friendlies and while 47 were distributed in Qualifiers (28), Copa América (13) and World Cups (6).

From the ground. Before kicking the free kicks, Messi ties his shoelaces. Why? To look at the goalkeeper, whom he cannot see, due to height, above the barrier. So he kneels down and from there he sees where the goalkeeper is located.

Benjamin. With the National Team, he is the youngest Argentine to participate and also score a goal in a World Cup. He was the one who made it to Serbia and Montenegro, the sixth, in Germany 2006, with José Pékerman as coach. He did it with 18 years, 11 months, and 21 days.

Lionel Messi and the captain’s tape: he became a driver. Reuters photo

Captain. The captaincy came five years after his first World Cup, the one that is remembered sitting crestfallen on the ground against Germany, with no chance of entering because Pekerman had exhausted the changes. In 2011 he put on the ribbon and never took it off: he played in the finals of Brazil 2014, the Copa América 2015, the Centenario and won the Copa América 2021 and the Finalissima against Italy at Wembley.

Oceania. There is only one football federation that did not receive goals from Messi and that is Oceania, although it has an explanation: Lionel has never faced a team from that continent. To those of Conmebol -for Qualifiers, Continental Cups and others- he distributed 44 goals. To the Europeans, 19. From the center and north of the American continent, 15; and from Africa, 5.

Goals for everyone. He scored goals against 30 different teams but the most goals are from our Continent. The one who converted the most was bolivia with eight goals, followed by Uruguay Y Ecuadorboth with six.

Tailored to you. But to reach all those numbers there was a fundamental game: the first with the Argentine jersey in youth and when he was a complete unknown. The then president of the AFA, Julio Grondona, organized two lightning friendly matches that gave him the character of an official with a “FIFA form” to shield him from Spain’s interest in adding him.

Lionel Messi celebrates a goal he scored against the Uruguayan team for the Qatar 2022 World Cup Qualifiers. Photo: Mauro Alfieri

The first scream. The first was on the Argentinos pitch against the Paraguayan U-22, with Albiceleste winning 8-0. Leo came on for Pocho Lavezzi and scored the sixth goal. Two days later, he made two against Uruguay. Those games were enough to play the next South American.

No public. There were few witnesses for the first of the matches: on the Argentinos field there were between 200 and 500 spectators, according to estimates. Those were times when Lionel didn’t move the needle or draw crowds.

A machine. The 2005 U20 World Cup in the Netherlands followed: his first consecration. He didn’t start as a starter, but from the second game he was immovable. Six goals, boot and golden ball of the competition. He started the love-hate relationship of the Argentine public, who compared him to Diego Maradona and questioned that he did not sing the National Anthem.

Messi at the medal ceremony: Olympic champion. Photo EFE

Olympic. The laurels literally came at the 2008 Olympics: with Sergio Batista as coach, he arrived from Barcelona after FIFA intervened because the club refused to loan him out. Messi stood up to Pep Guardiola and traveled to Beijing before the CAS resolved his case, he wanted to win the gold medal. And he achieve it.

Retirement”. But not all were good with Celeste and Blanca. After falling in the Copa América Centenario final, Messi announced his retirement from the National Team. With the Major he could not win titles and he declared himself tired of trying. It was after losing three finals: the 2014 World Cup, the 2015 Copa América and that special edition in the United States. came back months later.

Against Messi. Another absence was due to a four-game sanction for an insult to an assistant referee after a match against Chile, for the World Cup Qualifiers in Russia: FIFA acted ex officio because neither the line judge who had received the insult, nor the main one, they included it in the report. He served a date against Bolivia and, after the appeal, his punishment was lifted.

Lionel Messi and his father Jorge behind, after testifying in court. dpa photo

The stain. The only time that Messi appeared in the newspapers outside the Sports section was in 2013 and for a sensitive issue: he was accused of the crime of evasion and starred in a process that could have ended with jail. They calculated an evasion of €4.1 million corresponding to taxes on sponsorship earnings. He voluntarily paid 5.1 million of the common currency and two fines of 1.7 million and 1.4 million to be free of guilt and charge together with his father Jorge.

Millionaire. In a matter of money, Messi’s numbers are as good as the data that emerges from goals and other statistics: Forbes magazine included him in the list of athletes who won more than $1 billion throughout his career.

Other times. Before that, money was not a characteristic of the Messi: 900 dollars a month was the first of the hormonal treatments that the family faced, part absorbed by the prepaid and another part by the work of Leo’s father. When that ceased to be an option, Barcelona was the only club that fulfilled the commitment to pay for the injections.

Besides happiness… It is estimated that the income after the contract signed last year at PSG allows him to win $4,600 per hourthat is, five of those doses every 60 minutes.

Messi and Ronaldinho, in times of lockout clauses. AFP photo

Clauses. The first professional contract had a clause that provided for termination in exchange for 30 million euros. The first modification was when he made a category jump and the number grew to 80. When he reached the First Division there were no longer any doubts and whoever wanted him in his team had to pay Barcelona 150 million, the same as Ronaldinho who was then in his heyday. and wore the 10 of Barça.

Inter. The only one that came close to paying that figure was Inter, before the 2006 World Cup. Messi was not yet Messi, but he already promised much of what he ended up showing. Barcelona stood firm and did not lower a single euro. The Italian club got out of the negotiation alone.

Own brand. On its official website, it sells its own clothing line: from jackets, to t-shirts, outfits and accessories from its sports line, keyrings, posters, dress clothes, towels and towels, and even a robe with its logo. Everything between 50 and 60 euros.

Champions of the Finalissima. AP Photo

Other millions. Everything is counted in millions for Messi. On Instagram, they follow him 340 million users. There are few people with a better rating: the influencer Kylie Jenner (347 million) and Cristiano Ronaldo (452 million).

CR7. There are few things in which the Portuguese footballer has better numbers than Messi. In addition to more followers, Cristiano Ronaldo with his national team scored more goals than Leo with his: 117 goals in 188 matches with the Portuguese, against 86 in 163 from Argentina.

Real Madrid. But Messi’s great rival is not Ronaldo: it is the real Madrid. As a footballer for Barcelona and PSG, Rosario faced the Madrid club in 47 opportunitieswith 20 wins, 16 losses and 11 draws. He has it as a son.

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