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Rediff.com  » Sports » All you wanted to know about Lionel Messi

All you wanted to know about Lionel Messi

Last updated on: January 10, 2012 11:24 IST

Messi is blessed with the same masterly ball control as Maradona

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Factbox on Barcelona and Argentina forward Lionel Messi who won the World Player of the Year award for the third time in a row on Monday.

Born June 24, 1987 in Rosario, Sante Fe, Argentina.

The 24-year-old is blessed with the same masterly ball control and burst of pace as the great Diego Maradona and his goal against Getafe in a King's Cup match in 2007 was almost a replica of the former Argentina captain's spectacular solo effort against England in the 1986 World Cup.


Image: Lionel Messi
Photographs: Getty Images

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Joined Barcelona as a 13-year-old

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Joined Barcelona as a 13-year-old in 2000 and shone in the youth ranks before then-coach Frank Rijkaard gave him his senior debut at the age of 16 in a friendly against Porto in 2003.

Led Argentina to glory at the 2005 World Youth Championship in the Netherlands, scoring two penalties in a 2-1 final victory over Nigeria. Like Maradona, ended the tournament with the best player and top scorer trophies.

Became a Spanish citizen in 2005.


Image: Lionel Messi
Photographs: Getty Images

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Led Argentina to the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics

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Made his debut for Argentina in a friendly against Hungary in August 2005, the same opponents Maradona made his debut against as a 16-year-old. Messi was sent off less than a minute after going on as a substitute for elbowing a defender who had pulled his shirt.

A bureaucratic argument over whether he could be classed as a European Union player meant he did not represent Barcelona in a competitive game until 2005. He went on to score six goals in 17 appearances as the club won La Liga for the second year in a row.

Faced a race against time to make the 2006 World Cup and played only a bit-part role in the tournament. Coach Jose Pekerman was heavily criticised for leaving him on the bench as Argentina were knocked out in the quarter-finals by hosts Germany after a penalty shootout.

Led Argentina to the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and came second in the 2008 FIFA World Player of the Year vote behind Portugal winger Cristiano Ronaldo who was then with Manchester United but is now at Real Madrid.


Image: Lionel Messi
Photographs: Getty Images

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Inspired Barcelona to six trophies in 2009-10 season

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In the 2009-10 season, Messi played an influential role in Pep Guardiola's Barcelona side that won six trophies including the Champions League, La Liga and the World Club Cup.

Part of the Argentina team coached by Diego Maradona which was dumped out of the 2010 World Cup, losing 4-0 to Germany in the quarter-finals. Messi failed to score and struggled to find his best form at the tournament in South Africa.

Inspired Barcelona to an emphatic 3-1 win against Manchester United in the 2011 Champions League final, scoring one goal and creating another in a match-winning display.


Image: Lionel Messi
Photographs: Getty Images

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Scored 53 goals in the 2010-11 season

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Scored 53 goals in the 2010-11 season, including 12 in the Champions League in which he finished top scorer for the third successive season.

Helped Barca to a third consecutive La Liga title in 2010-11.

Member of Argentina team who were beaten by old rivals Uruguay in the quarter-finals of the Copa America in July 2011 and he failed to score any goals at the tournament.

Passed the milestone of 200 goals for Barca in November 2011 and is fast closing in on the Catalan club's record marksman Cesar Rodriguez, who scored 235.


Image: Lionel Messi
Photographs: Getty Images

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