Lionel Messi turns 30: The emergence of a footballing great

first_imgOctober 16, 2004, that was the day on which a certain Lionel Messi first donned the famous red and blue of  F.C. Barcelona in a official game against local rivals Espanyol.Aged just 17 years, 3 months and 22 days, Lionel Messi replaced Deco on the right wing, yet his first goal for the club came seven and a half months after his debut.But his journey to becoming the arguably the greatest-ever footballer started way back in the year 2000.A 13-year-old boy from Rosario, Argentina crossed the Atlantic along with his father to join Barcelona, a club who would stand beside the short, frail yet talented kid. (Also read: Zinedine Zidane turns 45: 5 of the most iconic moments from his career)As a child he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency and Barcelona sponsored his hormone therapy.A cost of 900 U.S. Dollars a month, something the clubs back in Argentina just couldn’t risk for a unproven young boy, but more than 500 goals for the club in more than a fair deal.He was signed for the Barcelona Under 14s and a quick progression through the youth ranks later, a star was found.After his lukewarm opening season for the senior Barcelona side, in which he played just 77 minutes, Messi starred for the Under-20 national side in the Youth championships in The Netherlands in 2005.The then,18-year-old finished with 6 goals in the tournament that Argentina won and he won the Golden Shoe as well as the  Golden Ball.A few injury-hit seasons later, Messi  established himself as the central focus of the Barcelona attack and was tearing apart defences all over Europe, culminating with goals in the final of the UEFA Champions League against Manchester United F.C.  in 2009.advertisementA season, in which he was adjudged the FIFA Player of the year and won the Ballon d’Or for the first time, an honour he would go on to win for a record five times.The rest as they say is history, but a defeat to a near-perfect German side in the final of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, left the ‘little magician’ within touching distance of the ever-eluding title of “the best ever.”A missed penalty in Argentina’s loss at the hands of Chile in the 2016 Copa America resulted in Messi’s announcement of retirement from international football, a decision he would take back to the joy of millions around the globe.last_img

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