When you are the six-time Ballon D’Or winner, it’s safe to say that you have put in more efforts than your share on the pitch for your team.
Lionel Messi has spent his entire youth career at FC Barcelona and rose through the ranks of the club’s La Masia to make his debut in 2003. However, his breakthrough came in the 2005 Joan Gamper game against Juventus. Capello requested to loan Messi after the game and the Catalans also received a bid from Inter Milan. Messi chose to stay and became an undisputed starter for the team. Since then he has been a part of the Barca squad for sixteen La Liga seasons.
He has won six Ballon d'Or, six Golden Boots, six Pichichi, Laureus World Sportsman of the Year among many other individual accolades. He has helped Barcelona win two trebles, ten La Liga titles, four Champions League titles, six Copa Del Rey among many others. It made fortunes for him and Messi's Net Worth made him currently the 2nd richest footballer in the world.
The debate about whether or not he is the best player of all time goes on and on and the Argentinean continues to break records. He has 699 career goals and is looking forward to breaking the 700 goal barrier soon. Despite missing several games due to an injury this season, he is still the top-scorer and top assist provider in La Liga. Here are some unknown facts about Messi from his childhood and personal life.
He has just turned 33 on 24th June 2020, and on this occasion, we bring you ten of Argentinian's finest individual performances.
Barcelona vs Real Madrid – 10th March 2007
The game which introduced Lionel Messi’s superficial talent to the rest of the world was the one against Real Madrid back in 2007. At the age of nineteen, he scored his first career hat trick and that too against the mighty Los Blancos. His hat-trick came in the 91st minute as he scored past Casillas to deny Madrid three points as the match ended 3-3. It wasn’t a result to celebrate for the club but this game put the Argentinean in the spotlight.
Barcelona vs Getafe – 18th April 2007
A month after scoring his first hattrick, Messi again made the headlines as he almost replicated Diego Maradona’s wonder goal vs England. He scored a brilliant solo goal against Getafe as he picked up the ball near the halfway line before dribbling past the whole team to score. This goal is regarded as his best ever goal for Barcelona. El Pais awarded him four stars in their three-star player rating system after the game.
Barcelona vs Manchester United – 27th May 2009
A dream Champions League final. Messi vs Ronaldo, Xavi vs Scholes, Guardiola vs Ferguson. The game had everything. Messi scored an impossible header to extend Barca’s lead to two as he rose high above Edwin van der Sar, scoring through Xavi’s cross. He played the game as a false 9 and exploited United’s solid defence throughout the game. Barcelona ran out winners and lifted their 3rd Champions League title.
Barcelona vs Arsenal – 6th April 2010
Barca played a 2-2 draw in the first leg against Arsenal in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16. In the second leg, Messi was ruthless. He scored four goals against Arsene Wenger’s side to confirm a slot in the quarter-finals of the competition. The game ended 4-1 and the score settled 6-3 on aggregate. The chip over Almunia was among the most iconic moments from the game. It was his first-ever four-goal haul.
Barcelona vs Real Madrid – 27th April 2011
The list wouldn’t be completed if we don’t include this game. It was the Champions League semi-final in 2011 and Barcelona faced Real Madrid. The first leg was in Santiago Bernabeu. Messi silenced the Bernabeu (not for the first time) as he scored a brace in the second half, sending the Catalans to the final. He broke the deadlock in the 76th min before scoring a brilliant solo goal by running 30 yards past a host of Madrid players. It was one of the most crucial and brilliant goals of his career.
Barcelona vs Bayer Leverkusen – 7th March 2012
Messi scored his own ‘La Manita’ against Bayer Leverkusen in the 2nd leg of Barca’s R16 tie. Messi set the record to become the first player to score five goals in a single Champions League match. Barcelona drubbed Bayer by winning 7-1 at Camp Nou, ending the tie 10-2 on aggregate. This season is still his greatest year stats-wise as he scored a whopping 91 goals, still a record. He was averaging 1.64 goal involvements per game across an entire year.
Argentina vs Brazil – 9th June 2012
Argentina faced Brazil in front of 82,000 fans at the Meadowlands Stadium in New York. Messi notched a hattrick against Brazil as he tormented the entire Brazilian defence. His hattrick included a brilliant long-range goal. He struck the winning goal with five minutes left on the clock. The game ended 4-3 in favour of Argentina.
Barcelona vs Bayern Munich 6th May 2015
Barcelona faced Guardiola’s Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final clash in 2015. Neuer challenged Messi ahead of the game and Messi delivered. He scored a brace in Barcelona’s 3-0 win over Bayern in the 1st leg. His brace included a brilliant goal as he sent Boateng to the grass and chipped past Neuer. Barcelona went on to win the Champions League that season.
Barcelona vs Real Madrid – 23rd April 2017
Zidane’s Real Madrid were the league leaders and faced 2nd placed Barcelona in El Clasico at the Bernabeu. Despite taking an elbow to the jaw, Messi scored a brace which sealed a 3-2 victory for the Catalan giants. Messi scored a last gasp winner through a brilliant team effort to silence the stadium. He celebrated the goal by holding his jersey aloft in the crowd. Truly, his most iconic celebration ever.
Barcelona vs Liverpool – 2nd May 2019
Not a game Messi would cherish as Barcelona lost the tie at Anfield in the 2nd leg. Barcelona faced Liverpool in the Champions League semi-final. Messi scored a brace as the Catalans won the first leg 3-0. His brace included an iconic freekick from 35 yards out. It was also his 600th goal. However, Barcelona lost the 2nd leg by 4-0 and crashed out of the competition.
These are some of the most memorable performances Messi delivered till now, We wish him a very happy birthday and look forward to some more unforgettable performances from him.
Opinion | Why Messi is a victim of his own success