Happy Birthday Messi
Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini was born 24 June 1987. He is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a forward for Spanish club Barcelona and the Argentine national team. Often considered the best player in the world and regarded by many as the greatest of all time, Messi has a record-tying five Ballon d’Or awards, four of which he won consecutively, and a record five European Golden Shoes. He has spent his entire professional career with Barcelona, where he has won 32 trophies, including nine La Liga titles, four UEFA Champions League titles, and six Copas del Rey.
Both a prolific goal scorer and a creative playmaker, Messi holds the records for most official goals scored in La Liga (383), a La Liga season (50), a club football season in Europe (73), a calendar year (91), El Clásico (26), as well as those for most assists in La Liga (149) and the Copa América (11). He has scored over 600 senior career goals for club and country.
He is the third of four children of Jorge Messi, a steel factory manager, and his wife Celia Cuccittini, who worked in a magnet manufacturing workshop. On his father’s side, he is of Italian and Spanish descent, the great-grandson of immigrants from the northcentral Adriatic Marche region of Italy and Catalonia, and on his mother’s side, he has primarily Italian ancestry.
Growing up in a tight-knit, football-loving family, “Leo” developed a passion for the sport from an early age, playing constantly with his older brothers, Rodrigo and Matías, and his cousins, Maximiliano and Emanuel Biancucchi, both of whom became professional footballers. At the age of four he joined local club Grandoli, where he was coached by his father, though his earliest influence as a player came from his maternal grandmother, Celia, who accompanied him to training and matches. He was greatly affected by her death, shortly before his eleventh birthday; since then, as a devout Catholic, he has celebrated his goals by looking up and pointing to the sky in tribute of his grandmother.
Born and raised in central Argentina, Messi was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency as a child. At age 13, he relocated to Spain to join Barcelona, who agreed to pay for his medical treatment. After a fast progression through Barcelona’s youth academy, Messi made his competitive debut aged 17 in October 2004. Despite being injury-prone during his early career, he established himself as an integral player for the club within the next three years, finishing 2007 as a finalist for both the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year award, a feat he repeated the following year.
An Argentine international, Messi is his country’s all-time leading goalscorer. At youth level, he won the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship, finishing the tournament with both the Golden Ball and Golden Shoe, and an Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics. His style of play as a diminutive, left-footed dribbler drew comparisons with compatriot Diego Maradona, who declared the teenager his successor.
After making his senior debut in August 2005, Messi became the youngest Argentine to play and score in a FIFA World Cup during the 2006 edition, and reached the final of the 2007 Copa América, where he was named young player of the tournament. As the squad’s captain from August 2011, he led Argentina to three consecutive finals: the 2014 World Cup, for which he won the Golden Ball, and the 2015 and 2016 Copas América. After announcing his international retirement in 2016, he reversed his decision and led his country to qualification for the 2018 World Cup.
According to France Football, Messi was the world’s highest-paid footballer for five years out of six between 2009 and 2014; he was the first player to exceed the €40 million benchmark, with earnings of €41 million in 2013, and the €50–€60 million points, with income of €65 million in 2014. Messi was second on Forbes list of the world’s highest-paid athletes (after Cristiano Ronaldo) with income of $81.4 million from his salary and endorsements in 2015–16. In 2018 he was the first player to exceed the €100m benchmark for a calendar year, with earnings of €126m ($154m) in combined income from salaries, bonuses and endorsements deals. Since 2008, he has been Barcelona’s highest-paid player, receiving a salary that increased incrementally from €7.8 million to €13 million over the next five years.
Signing a new Barcelona contract in 2017, he earns $667,000 per week in wages, and Barcelona also paid him $59.6 million as a signing on bonus. His new buyout clause is set at $835 million (€700 million). In addition to his salary and multimillion-euro bonuses, much of his income derives from endorsements; Sports Pro has consequently cited him as one of the world’s most marketable athletes every year since their research began in 2010.
His main sponsor since 2006 is the sportswear company Adidas. As Barça’s leading youth prospect, he had been signed with Nike since age 14, but transferred to Adidas after they successfully challenged their rival’s claim to his image rights in court. Over time, Messi established himself as their leading brand endorser; from 2008, he had a long-running signature collection of Adidas F50 boots, and in 2015, he became the first footballer to receive his own sub-brand of Adidas boots, the Adidas Messi.