With an astounding 793 goals for club and country, 42 team titles, and a record seven Ballon d’Ors to his name, Lionel Messi has already secured his status as a true footballer.
But on Sunday, it was The legendary Argentine star He scored two goals and the first of five penalties, as his team won the World Cup.
The 35-year-old finally took home the one trophy that has so far eluded him – the biggest of them all.
The victory adds to his already exhausting trophy cabinet, while at the same time ending a 36-year run of mischief for Argentina, who last won the tournament in 1986 thanks to another La Albiceleste legend, Diego Maradona.
For many, winning the World Cup cements Messi’s status as the greatest soccer player of all time after years of controversy between his fans and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Here Sky News looks in numbers at the Argentine star’s exciting career.
1987 – A star is born
Born to a steel factory manager father and a mother who worked in a magnet manufacturing workshop, Messi grew up in a soccer-loving family in the Argentine city of Rosario, northwest of Buenos Aires.
As a child, he played football constantly with his older brothers Rodrigo and Matías, as well as cousins Maximiliano and Emanuele Biancucci, both of whom became professional footballers.
He began playing in the four-year-old team, before joining local club Newell’s Old Boys at the age of six, where he showed his goalscoring prowess with nearly 500 goals in the youth team nicknamed ‘The 87 Machine’.
However, it was later discovered that the young Messi suffers from a growth hormone deficiency, a condition that threatened his future career.
His father initially used his private health insurance to cover a $1,000-a-month treatment, which involved Messi injecting hormones into his legs every night.
After the treatment’s insurance coverage expired, Messi’s father asked Newell to contribute.
However, the club refused to fully fund the treatment, partly due to the difficult economic situation in the country at the time.
13 – The age of Messi signed for Barcelona
Messi’s father looked further afield, to Spain, for a club he hoped would help fund his son’s hormone treatment, leading to trials with Barcelona.
After initial reluctance on the part of La Liga, the club’s first team manager Charlie Rexach, without paper in hand, offered a contract on a napkin to Messi’s family.
Messi would complete his treatment with growth hormone at the age of 14, and after the approval of the Spanish Football Federation, he joined Barcelona’s famous La Masia youth academy.
He became part of Barcelona’s greatest ever youth team, scoring 36 goals in 30 matches and helping guide his side to an unprecedented league and cup treble.
17 – Messi’s professional debut
After dominating the youth leagues, Messi, a 5ft 7in diminutive striker with a low center of balance, excellent ball control and an impressive left foot, earned his first team debut at the age of 16 in a friendly match.
His professional debut came at the age of 17 and three months, Barcelona’s youngest player ever, in a match against Espanyol in October 2004.
That season he played 244 minutes in nine matches, scoring his first goal against Albacete in May 2005.
In August of that year, he made his debut for Argentina, in a 2-1 victory over Hungary.
793 – Messi’s total competitive goals *so far
Across 1,002 professional matches for club and country, Messi has achieved an astounding return of 793 goals.
Although there is much debate, due to the lack of official records and whether goals scored in friendlies will be included, according to the International Federation of Football History and Statistics, Messi is only trailing arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo in the all-time scoring charts. .
But he has 350 assists to his name – 116 more than Ronaldo – and has played 143 fewer games.
Messi holds a number of all-time goalscoring records, including Barcelona (627) and Argentina (98) all-time leading scorers.
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He also holds the world record for most goals scored (71) in a single season, beating German striker Gerd Müller’s previous record of 67 goals.
Messi has scored 13 World Cup goals so far in his career, across five tournaments, and is the only player in history to score a World Cup goal in his teens, 20s and 30s.
42- The number of titles Messi has won
With 41 club and international titles to his name before, World Cup wins make Messi the most decorated footballer in history along with his former teammate, Brazilian right-back Dani Alves.
Over two decades with Barcelona, Messi has won an astonishing ten La Liga titles, seven Champions League titles and 15 domestic cups.
He also lifted the Club World Cup and the European Super Cup three times each.
For Argentina, he has won almost every major international competition, with only the World Cup eluding him so far, including the Copa América, the final and the Olympic gold medal.
He won the Ligue 1 title with his current club, Paris Saint-Germain.
49- The number of individual honors Messi has won *so far
Besides international and club titles, Messi has also won a large number of individual awards, including seven Ballon d’Or awards, the last of which was in 2021.
He also has nine La Liga Player of the Year (MVP) awards and the Golden Ball award for the 2014 World Cup – a tournament in which his Argentine team lost in the final to Germany.
Messi is also the recipient of six European Golden Boot awards and the 2021 Copa América Player of the Year trophy, where he was instrumental in leading Argentina to success.
Three – Messi’s sons
Off the field, Messi has three children, Thiago, born in 2012, Mateo, born in 2015, and Siro, born in 2018, with his wife, Antonella Roccuzzo.
The couple has been together since they were 20 years old.
Like Messi, Roccuzzo is from the Argentine city of Rosario, where they got married in 2017.
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