Lionel Messi by the numbers: After 793 goals and seven Ballons d’Or – his World Cup wins cemented his place as one of the world’s greatest footballers.

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.

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Messi’s giant jersey hangs in the center of Rosario, the birthplace of the Argentina captain

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’.

In this April 17, 2018 photo, a small mural depicting Lionel Messi as a child adorns the wall at a soccer field used by Newell's Old Boys youth teams, Messi's childhood club, in Rosario, Argentina.  Messi, who was born in Rosario, played for the local team, Rosario, before signing for Barcelona at the age of 13.  The mural is the only sign that he was a top player here as a kid.  (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
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A small mural depicting Lionel Messi as a child adorns the wall of a football field used by Newell’s Old Boys youth teams. Pic: AP

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.

FC Barcelona player, Leo Messi, of Argentina, celebrates his goal against Betis during a La Liga soccer match in Barcelona, ​​Spain, Saturday, February 18, 2006. Barcelona won 5-1.  (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
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Messi celebrates his goal against Betis during a La Liga match in 2006. Pic: AP

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.

Argentina's Lionel Messi smiles during a news conference in Buenos Aires, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2005. Argentina will face Paraguay next Sunday in Asuncion in a 2006 World Cup qualifying match. (AP Photo/Daniel Luna)
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Argentine Lionel Messi smiles during a press conference in Buenos Aires in 2005. PIC: AP

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.

In this May 30, 2006, file photo, Argentine Lionel Messi dribbles an unidentified Angola player during an exhibition soccer match in Salerno, Italy.  In Spain, young footballers can sign professional contracts when they turn 16, which is the minimum working age stipulated by Spanish law.  Prior to this, children would join training academies run by football clubs that field youth teams in amateur leagues.  The most famous example in Spain is Barcelona
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Lionel Messi of Argentina in a match against Angola in 2006

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.

    In this May 27, 2009 photo, Barcelona's Andres Iniesta, right, and Lionel Messi hold the trophy at the end of the Champions League final soccer match between Manchester United and Barcelona in Rome.  Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta or Lionel Messi will win the FIFA Ballon d'Or as the best player in the world on Monday, and much of his teammates' success can be attributed to Barcelona's La Masia youth academy.  (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
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Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta, right, and Lionel Messi lift the 2009 UEFA Champions League trophy. Pic: AP

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

Brazilian soccer player Ronaldinho, left, and Samuel Eto'o, Cameroon, right, show FIFA World Players' Cups and Argentina's Leo Messi, center, with the Golden Boy trophy before the La Liga soccer match against Celta Vigo at the Nou Camp.  In Barcelona, ​​Spain, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2005. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
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Ronaldinho, left, Samuel Eto’o, right, and Messi, center, with the Golden Boy award in 2005

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

Ballon d'Or awards ceremony - Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris, France - November 29, 2021 Paris Saint-Germain's Lionel Messi, his wife, Antonella Roccuzzo, and their children before the awards - REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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Lionel Messi with his wife Antonella Roccuzzo and their children at the Ballon d’Or award ceremony.

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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