kids encyclopedia robot

Lionel Messi facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Lionel Messi
Lionel-Messi-Argentina-2022-FIFA-World-Cup (cropped).jpg
Messi with Argentina at the 2022 FIFA World Cup
Personal information
Date of birth (1987-06-24) 24 June 1987 (age 36)
Place of birth Rosario, Argentina
Height 1.70 m
Playing position Forward, attacking midfielder
Club information
Current club Inter Miami
Number 10
Youth career
1992–1995 Grandoli
1995–2000 Newell's Old Boys
2000–2003 Barcelona
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2003–2004 Barcelona C 10 (5)
2004–2005 Barcelona B 22 (6)
2004–2021 Barcelona 520 (474)
2021–2023 Paris Saint-Germain 58 (22)
2023– Inter Miami 13 (10)
National team
2004–2005 Argentina U20 18 (14)
2008 Argentina U23 5 (2)
2005– Argentina 180 (106)
Honours
Men's football
Representing  Argentina
FIFA World Cup
Winner 2022 Qatar
Runner-up 2014 Brazil
Copa América
Winner 2021 Brazil
Runner-up 2007 Venezuela
Runner-up 2015 Chile
Runner-up 2016 United States
Third 2019 Brazil
CONMEBOL–UEFA Cup of Champions
Winner 2022 England
Olympic Games
Gold 2008 Beijing Team
FIFA U-20 World Cup
Winner 2005 Netherlands
South American U-20 Championship
Third 2005 Colombia
  • Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 08:15, 28 April 2024 (UTC).

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 02:35, 22 November 2023 (UTC)

Lionel Andrés Messi ( born 24 June 1987), also known as Leo Messi, is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a forward for and captains both Major League Soccer club Inter Miami and the Argentina national team.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, Messi has won a record eight Ballon d'Or awards. He also has the most international goals by a South American male (106). A prolific goalscorer and creative playmaker, Messi holds the records for most goals in La Liga (474), most hat-tricks in La Liga (36) and the UEFA Champions League (eight), and most assists in La Liga (192) and the Copa América (17). Messi has scored over 800 senior career goals for club and country, and has the most goals by a player for a single club (672).

Early life

Messi was born on 24 June 1987 in Rosario, Santa Fe. 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.

Growing up in a tight-knit, football-loving family, "Leo" developed a passion for the sport from an early age. He constantly played 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.

"When you saw him you would think: this kid can't play ball. He's a dwarf, he's too fragile, too small. But immediately you'd realise that he was born different, that he was a phenomenon and that he was going to be something impressive."

Newell's Old Boys youth coach Adrián Coria shares his first impression of the 12-year-old Messi.

A lifelong supporter of Newell's Old Boys, Messi joined the Rosario club when he was six years old. During the six years he played for Newell's, he scored almost 500 goals as a member of "The Machine of '87", the near-unbeatable youth side named for the year of their birth, and regularly entertained crowds by performing ball tricks during half-time of the first team's home games.

His future as a professional player was threatened when, aged 10, he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. As his father's health insurance covered only two years of growth hormone treatment, which cost at least $1,000 per month, Newell's agreed to contribute, but later reneged on their promise. He was scouted by Buenos Aires club River Plate, whose playmaker, Pablo Aimar, he idolised, but they declined to pay for his treatment.

La Masia (Can Planas) (Barcelona) - 1
Messi enrolled at Barcelona's youth academy, La Masia, aged 13.

As the Messi family had relatives in Catalonia, they sought to arrange a trial with Barcelona in September 2000. First team director Charly Rexach immediately wanted to sign him, but the board of directors hesitated; at the time it was highly unusual for European clubs to sign foreign players of such a young age. On 14 December, an ultimatum was issued for Barcelona to prove their commitment, and Rexach, with no other paper at hand, offered a contract on a paper napkin.

Career outline

Leo messi barce 2005
Messi playing against Málaga in 2005

Messi relocated to Spain from Argentina aged 13 to join Barcelona. During his first year in Spain, Messi rarely played with the Infantiles due to a transfer conflict with Newell's; as a foreigner, he could only be fielded in friendlies and the Catalan league. Without football, he struggled to integrate into the team; already reserved by nature, he was so quiet that his teammates initially believed he was mute. At home, he suffered from homesickness after his mother moved back to Rosario with his brothers and little sister, María Sol, while he stayed in Barcelona with his father.

After a year at Barcelona's youth academy, La Masia, and having completed his growth hormone treatment, Messi was finally enrolled in the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) in February 2002. Now playing in all competitions, he befriended his teammates, among whom were Cesc Fàbregas and Gerard Piqué.

Aged 17, he made his competitive debut for the team in October 2004. He established himself as an integral player for the club within the next three years, and in his first uninterrupted season in 2008–09 he helped Barcelona achieve the first treble in Spanish football. That year, aged 22, Messi won his first Ballon d'Or. Three successful seasons followed, with Messi winning four consecutive Ballons d'Or, making him the first player to win the award four times.

During the 2011–12 season, he set the La Liga and European records for most goals scored in a single season, while establishing himself as Barcelona's all-time top scorer. The following two seasons, Messi finished second for the Ballon d'Or behind Cristiano Ronaldo (his perceived career rival), before regaining his best form during the 2014–15 campaign, becoming the all-time top scorer in La Liga and leading Barcelona to a historic second treble, after which he was awarded a fifth Ballon d'Or in 2015. Messi assumed captaincy of Barcelona in 2018, and won a record sixth Ballon d'Or in 2019. Until leaving the club in 2021, he had spent his entire professional career with Barcelona, where he won a club-record 34 trophies, including ten La Liga titles, seven Copa del Rey titles and the UEFA Champions League four times.

Lionel Messi Barca training
Messi during a training session with Barcelona in 2006

Out of contract, he signed for French club Paris Saint-Germain in August 2021, spending two seasons at the club and winning Ligue 1 twice. Messi joined American club Inter Miami in July 2023, winning the Leagues Cup in August of that year. His base salary is set at $12 million with guaranteed compensation totaling $20.4 million for the 2023 season; Messi is also set to earn additional shares from jersey sales, MLS Season Pass subscriptions, and a stake in the club itself.

CINvMIA 2023-08-23 - Lionel Messi, Tata Martino (PXL 20230824 010525464) (Messi crop)
Messi with Inter Miami in the 2023 U.S. Open Cup

An Argentine international, Messi is the country's all-time leading goalscorer and also holds the national record for appearances. 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 his compatriot Diego Maradona, who described Messi as his successor. After his senior debut in August 2005, Messi became the youngest Argentine to play and score in a FIFA World Cup (2006), 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 FIFA World Cup, for which he won the Golden Ball, the 2015 Copa América, winning the Golden Ball, and the 2016 Copa América.

Lionel Messi goal 19abr2007
Messi making his Maradona-esque run against Getafe in 2007

After announcing his international retirement in 2016, he reversed his decision and led his country to qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, a third-place finish at the 2019 Copa América, and victory in the 2021 Copa América, while winning the Golden Ball and Golden Boot for the latter. For this achievement, Messi received a record-extending seventh Ballon d'Or in 2021.

In 2022, he led Argentina to win the 2022 FIFA World Cup, where he won a record second Golden Ball, scored seven goals including two in the final, and broke the record for most games played at the World Cup (26).

In March 2023, Messi made his return to Argentina as a world champion with two appearances in friendlies in his home country. He scored his 99th international goal with a free-kick in Argentina's 2–0 win over Panama; this also marked his 800th senior career goal for club and country. In the following match against Curaçao, Messi scored a hat-trick, his ninth for Argentina, and recorded an assist in a 7–0 win. The first of his three goals saw him reach 100 international goals, making Messi the third player in history to reach the milestone.

Player profile

Argentina team in St. Petersburg (cropped) Messi
A versatile forward, Messi often plays as a classic number 10.

Due to his short stature, Messi has a lower centre of gravity than taller players, which gives him greater agility, allowing him to change direction more quickly and evade opposing tackles. Although he has improved his ability with his weaker foot since his mid-20s, Messi is predominantly a left-footed player.

A prolific goalscorer, Messi is known for his finishing, positioning, quick reactions, and ability to make attacking runs to beat the defensive line. He has often been described as a magician; a conjurer, creating goals and opportunities where seemingly none exist. Moreover, he is an accurate free kick and penalty kick taker. As of September 2023, Messi ranks 5th all time in goals scored from direct free kicks with 65, the most among active players. He also has a penchant for scoring from chips.

Lionel Messi Player of the Year, 2011
Messi is known to drop deep, link-up with midfielders, orchestrate attacking plays, and create goal-scoring opportunities.

Personal life

Since 2008, Messi has been in a relationship with Antonela Roccuzzo, a fellow native of Rosario. He has known Roccuzzo since he was five years old, as she is the cousin of his childhood best friend, Lucas Scaglia, who is also a football player. After keeping their relationship private for a year, Messi first confirmed their romance in an interview in January 2009, before going public a month later during a carnival in Sitges after the Barcelona–Espanyol derby.

Messi and Roccuzzo have three sons. Thiago was born in Barcelona on 2 November 2012. In April 2015, Messi confirmed that they were expecting another child. On 30 June 2017, he married Roccuzzo at a luxury hotel named Hotel City Center in Rosario. In October 2017, his wife announced they were expecting their third child. Messi and his family are Catholic Christians.

Family

Messi enjoys a close relationship with his immediate family members, particularly his mother, Celia, whose face he has tattooed on his left shoulder. His professional affairs are largely run as a family business: his father, Jorge, has been his agent since he was 14, and his oldest brother, Rodrigo, handles his daily schedule and publicity. His mother and other brother, Matías, manage his charitable organization, the Leo Messi Foundation, and take care of personal and professional matters in Rosario.

Since leaving for Spain aged 13, Messi has maintained close ties to his hometown of Rosario, even preserving his distinct Rosarino accent. He has kept ownership of his family's old house, although it has long stood empty; he maintains a penthouse apartment in an exclusive residential building for his mother, as well as a family compound just outside the city. Once when he was in training with the national team in Buenos Aires, he made a three-hour trip by car to Rosario immediately after practice to have dinner with his family, spent the night with them, and returned to Buenos Aires the next day in time for practice. Messi keeps in daily contact via phone and text with a small group of confidants in Rosario, most of whom were fellow members of "The Machine of '87" at Newell's Old Boys. Messi has long planned to return to Rosario to end his playing career at Newell's.

Endorsements

Messi has endorsed sportswear company Adidas since 2006.

Earnings

According to France Football, he was the world's highest-paid footballer for five years out of six between 2009 and 2014, and was ranked the world's highest-paid athlete by Forbes in 2019 and 2022. In 2020, Messi became the second footballer and second team-sport athlete to surpass $1 billion in career earnings.

Philanthropy

Throughout his career, Messi has been involved in charitable efforts aimed at vulnerable children, a commitment that stems in part from the medical difficulties he faced in his own childhood. Since 2004, he has contributed his time and finances to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). Messi has served as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador since his appointment in March 2010, completing his first field mission for the organisation four months later as he travelled to Haiti to bring public awareness to the plight of the country's children in the wake of the recent earthquake. He has since participated in UNICEF campaigns targeting HIV prevention, education, and the social inclusion of disabled children. To celebrate his son's first birthday, in November 2013, Messi and Thiago were part of a publicity campaign to raise awareness of mortality rates among disadvantaged children.

Lionel Messi 31mar2007
Messi (pictured in 2007) has worked with UNICEF since 2004 and has served as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador since 2010.

In addition to his work with UNICEF, Messi founded his own charitable organisation, the Leo Messi Foundation, which supports access to health care, education, and sport for children. It was established in 2007 following a visit Messi paid to a hospital for terminally ill children in Boston, an experience that resonated with him to the point that he decided to reinvest part of his earnings into society. Through his foundation, Messi has awarded research grants, financed medical training, and invested in the development of medical centres and projects in Argentina, Spain, and elsewhere in the world. In addition to his own fundraising activities, such as his global "Messi and Friends" football matches, his foundation receives financial support from various companies to which he has assigned his name in endorsement agreements, with Adidas as their main sponsor.

Messi has also invested in youth football in Argentina: he financially supports Sarmiento, a football club based in the Rosario neighbourhood where he was born, committing in 2013 to the refurbishment of their facilities and the installation of all-weather pitches, and funds the management of several youth players at Newell's Old Boys and rival club Rosario Central, as well as at River Plate and Boca Juniors in Buenos Aires. At Newell's Old Boys, his boyhood club, he funded the 2012 construction of a new gymnasium and a dormitory inside the club's stadium for their youth academy. His former youth coach at Newell's, Ernesto Vecchio, is employed by the Leo Messi Foundation as a talent scout for young players. On 7 June 2016, Messi won a libel case against La Razón newspaper and was awarded €65,000 in damages, which he donated to the charity Médecins Sans Frontières. Messi made a donation worth €1 million ($1.1 million) to fight the spread of coronavirus. This was split between Clinic Barcelona hospital in Barcelona, Spain and his native Argentina. In addition to this, Messi along with his fellow FC Barcelona teammates announced he will be taking a 70% cut in salaries during the 2020 coronavirus emergency, and contribute further to the club to provide fully to salaries of all the clubs employees.

Interesting facts about Lionel Messi

  • On his father's side, he is of Italian and Spanish descent, and on his mother's side, he has primarily Italian ancestry.
  • His earliest influence as a player came from his maternal grandmother, Celia, who accompanied him to training and matches. She died shortly before his eleventh birthday; since then, as a devout Roman Catholic, he has celebrated his goals by looking up and pointing to the sky in tribute to his grandmother.
  • His goalscoring idol growing up was Ronaldo, with Messi calling him "the best forward I've ever seen".
  • Messi holds triple citizenship, as he is a citizen of Argentina, Italy, and Spain.
  • His favourite meals include asado (traditional South American barbecue), milanesa and pasta, and he prefers his mate unsweetened.
  • Messi was among Time's 100 most influential people in the world in 2011, 2012 and 2023.
  • In 2020 and 2023, he was named the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, with Messi being the first team-sport athlete to win the award.
  • Among his contemporary peers, Messi is most often compared and contrasted with Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo, as part of an ongoing rivalry.
  • In February 2021, Messi donated to the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya his Adidas shoes which he wore when he scored his 644th goal for Barcelona and broke Pelé's record for most goals scored for a single club; the shoes were later auctioned off in April by the museum for charity to help children with cancer and were sold for £125,000.

Lionel Messi quotes

  • "Sometimes you have to accept you can't win all the time."
  • "You have to fight to reach your dream. You have to sacrifice and work hard for it."
  • "The day you think there is no improvements to be made is a sad one for any player."
  • "I have fun like a child in the street. When the day comes when I'm not enjoying it, I will leave football."

Career statistics

Club

Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League National cup Continental Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Barcelona C 2003–04 Tercera División 10 5 10 5
Barcelona B 2003–04 Segunda División B 5 0 5 0
2004–05 Segunda División B 17 6 17 6
Total 22 6 22 6
Barcelona 2004–05 La Liga 7 1 1 0 1 0 9 1
2005–06 La Liga 17 6 2 1 6 1 0 0 25 8
2006–07 La Liga 26 14 2 2 5 1 3 0 36 17
2007–08 La Liga 28 10 3 0 9 6 40 16
2008–09 La Liga 31 23 8 6 12 9 51 38
2009–10 La Liga 35 34 3 1 11 8 4 4 53 47
2010–11 La Liga 33 31 7 7 13 12 2 3 55 53
2011–12 La Liga 37 50 7 3 11 14 5 6 60 73
2012–13 La Liga 32 46 5 4 11 8 2 2 50 60
2013–14 La Liga 31 28 6 5 7 8 2 0 46 41
2014–15 La Liga 38 43 6 5 13 10 57 58
2015–16 La Liga 33 26 5 5 7 6 4 4 49 41
2016–17 La Liga 34 37 7 5 9 11 2 1 52 54
2017–18 La Liga 36 34 6 4 10 6 2 1 54 45
2018–19 La Liga 34 36 5 3 10 12 1 0 50 51
2019–20 La Liga 33 25 2 2 8 3 1 1 44 31
2020–21 La Liga 35 30 5 3 6 5 1 0 47 38
Total 520 474 80 56 149 120 29 22 778 672
Paris Saint-Germain 2021–22 Ligue 1 26 6 1 0 7 5 34 11
2022–23 Ligue 1 32 16 1 0 7 4 1 1 41 21
Total 58 22 2 0 14 9 1 1 75 32
Inter Miami 2023 MLS 6 1 1 0 7 10 14 11
2024 MLS 9 10 0 0 3 2 0 0 12 12
Total 15 11 1 0 3 2 7 10 26 23
Career total 625 518 83 56 166 131 37 33 911 738

International

Appearances and goals by national team, year and competition
Team Year Competitive Friendly Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Argentina U20 2004 2 3 2 3
2005 16 11 16 11
Total 16 11 2 3 18 14
Argentina U23 2008 5 2 5 2
Total 5 2 0 0 5 2
Argentina 2005 3 0 2 0 5 0
2006 3 1 4 1 7 2
2007 10 4 4 2 14 6
2008 6 1 2 1 8 2
2009 8 1 2 2 10 3
2010 5 0 5 2 10 2
2011 8 2 5 2 13 4
2012 5 5 4 7 9 12
2013 5 3 2 3 7 6
2014 7 4 7 4 14 8
2015 6 1 2 3 8 4
2016 10 8 1 0 11 8
2017 5 4 2 0 7 4
2018 4 1 1 3 5 4
2019 6 1 4 4 10 5
2020 4 1 0 0 4 1
2021 16 9 0 0 16 9
2022 10 8 4 10 14 18
2023 5 3 3 5 8 8
Total 126 57 54 49 180 106
Career total 147 70 56 52 203 122

Honours

Messi with Neymar Junior the Future of Brazil
Messi (Golden Ball winner) pictured with future teammate Neymar (Bronze Ball winner) at the conclusion of the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup final

Barcelona

Paris Saint-Germain

  • Ligue 1: 2021–22, 2022–23
  • Trophée des Champions: 2022

Inter Miami

  • Leagues Cup: 2023

Argentina U20

Argentina U23

Argentina

Individual

  • Ballon d'Or/FIFA Ballon d'Or: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, 2021, 2023
  • FIFA World Player of the Year: 2009
  • The Best FIFA Men's Player: 2019, 2022, 2023
  • European Golden Shoe: 2009–10, 2011–12, 2012–13, 2016–17, 2017–18, 2018–19
  • FIFA World Cup Golden Ball: 2014, 2022
  • FIFA World Cup Silver Boot: 2022
  • FIFA Club World Cup Golden Ball: 2009, 2011
  • FIFA U-20 World Cup Golden Ball: 2005
  • FIFA U-20 World Cup Golden Boot: 2005
  • UEFA Club Footballer of the Year: 2008–09
  • UEFA Men's Player of the Year Award: 2010–11, 2014–15
  • UEFA Champions League top scorer: 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2011–12, 2014–15, 2018–19
  • Copa América Best Player: 2015, 2021
  • Copa América Top Goalscorer: 2021
  • La Liga Best Player: 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2011–12, 2012–13, 2014–15, 2016–17, 2017–18, 2018–19
  • Pichichi Trophy: 2009−10, 2011–12, 2012−13, 2016–17, 2017−18, 2018–19, 2019–20, 2020–21
  • Laureus World Sportsman of the Year: 2020, 2023
  • Ballon d'Or Dream Team: 2020
  • FIFA FIFPRO World 11: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023
  • Argentine Sportsperson of the Year: 2011, 2021, 2022, 2023
  • Argentine Footballer of the Year: 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Lionel Messi para niños

  • European Cup and UEFA Champions League records and statistics
  • La Liga records and statistics
  • List of FC Barcelona players
  • List of FC Barcelona records and statistics
  • List of FIFA World Cup winning players
  • List of largest sports contracts
  • List of men's footballers with 50 or more international goals
  • List of men's footballers with 100 or more international caps
  • List of men's footballers with 500 or more goals
  • List of men's footballers with the most official appearances
  • List of most-followed Instagram accounts
  • List of most-liked Instagram posts
  • List of top international men's football goalscorers by country
  • List of players who have appeared in multiple FIFA World Cups
  • List of association football rivalries
kids search engine
Lionel Messi Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.