Lionel Messi was born in Rosario city on June 24, 1987. He started playing football at the age of five for Grandoli, a club coached by his father. Messi switched to Newell's Old Boys in 1995. At the age of 11, he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. Every month Messi required treatment for the illness that cost over 500 sounds. River Plate showed interest in Messi's progress, but did not have enough money to pay for his treatment. FC Barcelona was made aware of Messi talent. After watching him play, Barcelona signed him and offer to pay for the medical bills if he was willing to move to Spain.
Messi is a player with exceptional quality. He is highly creative, and has the skills to take on defenders with ease. He is a versatile left-footed player who can play either in the middle or on either wing, or even as a center forward. Messi makes up for the lack of height with his speed and agility. His sudden changes in pace make him a true problem for the defenders. In addition, his accurate powerful shot make him truly unique in free kick and corner situations. He has drawn comparisons to Diego Maradona, and indeed Maradona himself named Messi his "successor".
In club football, Messi made his debut against Espanyol on October 16, 2004, becoming the third-youngest player ever to play for FC Barcelona and youngest club player who played in La Liga at that that time (a record broken by team mate Bojan Krkic in September 2007). He scored his first senior goal against Albacete Balompié on May 1, 2005. Messi was 17 years, 10 months and 7 days old at that time, becoming the youngest player to ever score in a La Liga game for FC Barcelona until 2007 when Bojan Krkic broke this record.
Messi won the Under 20 World Cup in Holland with Argentina. He was crowned the leading goalscorer and voted best player in the tournament. Aged 18 years, he had become one of the hottest properties in the world game. Shortly after, he made his first full international appearance in a friendly against Hungary. In 2005, José Pekerman called Messi up to the senior Argentine national team. He made his debut on August 17, 2005 against Hungary. He was sent off in the 63rd minute, just 40 seconds after he came in as a substitute. The referee found Messi to have elbowed defender Vilmos Vanczák, who was tugging Messi's shirt. He left the pitch disappointed and in tears.
Since then, Lionel Messi has developed into a more complete and mature player. There are still many years left in his career. Everyone is waiting for him to emulate Diego Maradona success by guiding Argentina to win the World Cup again.
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