Lionel Messi is considered to be one of the best footballers in the world. So much so that some suggest he is the best footballer of all time, which is rather impressive considering all of the amazing footballers that have come before him. Regardless, considering his reputation, it should come as no surprise to learn that Messi has won a number of championships as well as what can seem like a constant succession of awards and accolades.
Naturally, this has resulted in him becoming a rather prominent pop culture icon, which has been fueled by his appearance in advertising campaigns as well as his support of charitable causes. Summed up, it is clear that Messi is someone whose influence will continue to be felt for years and years to come
Here are 20 interesting things about Lionel Messi that you might not have known
As a child, Messi suffered from growth hormone deficiency, which resulted in reduced growth as well as a number of other health complications for him. To combat this problem, he had to inject himself with human growth hormone by sticking a needle into his legs on a nightly basis for a period of three years, which was an expensive treatment that costed $1,500 a month. As a result, Messi is all the more impressive for having come so far in spite of his problems.
Messi's first contract is preserved in a protective frame, which seems rather appropriate considering that it was written on a paper napkin, which is not as strong and reliable as the better grades of paper meant for important documents. This happened because the 13 year old Messi impressed Barcelona’s technical secretary at the time so much that he decided to sign him on the spot, which resulted in a scramble for suitable paper that turned up the paper napkin because they were at the Pompeia Tennis Club at the time.
Since his childhood, Messi has had an enormous love for food. However, it is interesting that he has a strong preference for simple but hearty fare over more complicated and more elaborate cooking, as shown by the fact that his favorite meal remains Milanesa Napolitana, which is an Argentinian dish made using cheese, onions, and tomatoes before being seasoned to perfection with a wide range of spices. Furthermore, his mother has stated that he loves schnitzel so long as it was made with neither ham nor horsemeat as well as chicken that has been cooked with a sauce made using onions, tomatoes, oregano, and pepper.
Messi continued his less than optimal diet even after he had signed on with Barcelona. As a result, Barcelona's manager had to recruit physiotherapy staff to take care of the problem after it came to his attention. Hilariously, he also had to remove the Coke vending machine on the premises because Messi was its single most frequent user.
At one time while he was at Barcelona, Messi was offered the chance to play for the Spanish under-20 national team, which is something that other Argentinian players have done on previous occasions. However, he turned down the offer citing that he was an Argentinian before he led the Argentinian under-20 national team to victory in the FIFA Youth Championship. While some speculate that Messi could have won even more awards and accolades by making the switch, it is clear that the man has a love for the country that he comes from.
His debut for the Argentinian national team came when he was 18 in August of 2005, serving as a substitute in the 65th minute of a match against Hungary. Unfortunately, his debut lasted less than a minute because he got into an incident with the Hungarian footballer, Vilmos Vanczak, with the result that he got a red card for elbowing while Vanczak got a yellow card for jersey-pulling. It was an extremely frustrating disappointment for Messi, who is said to have in a corner of the Argentinian dressing room with his head in his hands and tears in his eyes.
Argentina was once a popular choice for immigrants, making it no coincidence that Messi can claim to have heritage from a number of other cultures. For example, his father's family came from Italy when Angelo Messi made Argentina his new home way back in 1883, while his mother is of Lebanese origin. Furthermore, most of Messi's famiyl has English ancestry as well, thus making it a distinctively Argentinian blend of heritages.
UNICEF is a part of the United Nations that specializes in helping children by running programs for children as well as promoting children's rights throughout the world. In 2010, Messi was appointed as a UNICEF Children's Ambassador, meaning that he has since put his enormous influence to work by promoting its extremely important agenda. This can be seen in how he has visited Argentina, Haiti and Costa Rica to raise awareness about the life-or-death issues confronting the children of the world, which is the first step in creating the momentum for concrete action by governments, other organizations, and even private citizens.
Further evidence of Messi's support for UNICEF's mission can be seen in his support for related causes over the course of his career. For example, he has donated $812,000 to the children's hospital in his hometown of Rosario, which was used for the modification of its child oncology unit in order to provide better care for its patients. Similarly, he has donated about €100,000 for the purpose of helping children caught in the Syrian Civil War, which has already killed tens of thousands of people and is still continuing as of 2016.
Messi's son, Thiago, is following in his footsteps. Given Messi's reputation as well as the power of football, it should come as no surprise to learn that a number of football clubs became interested in his son as soon as he was born. However, Newell’s Old Boys was the club that signed the boy no more than 72 hours after his birth in 2012. After all, Newell’s Old Boys was Messi's first football club, meaning that they had an in with the Messi family.
Coincidentally, Messi's hometown of Rosario is not just known for his birth but also the birth of Che Guevara. For people who are unfamiliar with that name, chances are good that they recognize his portrait, which is a young man with a beret, messy hair, and facial hair with his eyes turned upwards as though looking at the horizon. Ironically, even though Che Guevara was a Marxist revolutionary, his face has become an iconic image of the capitalist system, which is something that he shares with Messi, who is one of the most marketable people on the planet.
Charmingly, Messi's partner is Antonella Roccuzzo, who he has known since the age of 5 both because she was a friend of his family and because she was related to one of his best friends when he was growing up. Although Messi moved to Spain, the two remained in touch, which formed the foundation of a relationship that started up in 2012.
Interestingly, Messi has images of some of his family members tattooed on his body. For example, he has the face of his mother, Celia, tattooed on his left shoulder. Similarly, he has his son's name and handprints tattooed on his left calf, though they are often kept concealed by the long socks that he wears for his football matches. Although his tattoos are a bit unusual, they seem remarkably appropriate for someone who is as close to his family as Messi is.
For another example of Messi's closeness to his family, his father has been representing him as his agent since he was a child at the age of 14, as shown by how his father was with him when he signed his first contract as well as the signing of the contract for his firstborn son, Thiago. For those who are curious, many of his other family members are involved in his life, as shown by his brother's work managing his schedule as well as his other brother's work with his charitable organization.
Messi broke a record in 2012 by scoring an amazing 86 goals in a single calendar year, thus beating out the previous record, which was set in 1972 at 85 goals in the same span of time. In total, the count was divided as thus: 56 La Liga goals, 3 Copa del Rey goals, 13 Champions League goals, 2 Spanish Super Cup goals, and 9 goals while he was still playing for Argentina, thus adding up to 86 goals in 66 games.
Of course, that was no more than one of Messi's many impressive achievements as a footballer. For another example, he is one of the few footballers to have ever won 3 European Golden Shoe awards, which are handed out to the top scorer in match leagues conducted by teams belonging to the top divisions of all European national leagues. Similarly, Messi is the only footballer to win the FIFA Ballon d'Or 4 times so far, with 3 consecutive wins from 2010 to 2012 as well as a 4th win in 2015. As might be guessed by the name, the Ballon d'Or is given out to the best male player in each year, making it a tremendous honor.
A Tokyo jeweler named Ginza Tanaka created a gold cast of Messi's left foot in honor of his 4th win of the Ballon d'Or, which stood at 10 inches tall and weighed 25 kilograms in total. The cast was worth $5.25 million, which we know because it was auctioned off for the sake of raising funds with which to help victims of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that tore through the region in 2011, which is another example of Messi's support of charitable causes.
Messi has been with Barcelona for a long, long time. Partly, this is because he likes Barcelona, and partly, this is because Barcelona likes him. For proof of how much Barcelona likes him, look no further than the fact that he has a buyout clause of €250 million, meaning that a team would have to come up with €250 million to settle issues with Barcelona before they can even started on attempting to convince Messi to sign with them. In other words, it is an extremely visible way on Barcelona's part to fend off other interested teams while also showing how much they value Messi as a part of their team.
In 2012, Messi managed to become the all-time top scorer for Barcelona by scoring no fewer than three times in a 5-3 win over Granada. This is particularly impressive considering the sheer margin by which he had beaten the previous holder of the recorder, who had managed 232 goals over 13 seasons whereas Messi had managed to beat him in no more than 8 seasons. Since that time, Messi is only managed to widen the gulf between him and any future contenders, meaning that it is unlikely his record will be beaten any time soon, if ever at all.
Different players have different strengths and weaknesses, which is why different players do better against different teams. Unfortunately for the teams that he plays against, Messi seems to be good against all of them, as shown by the fact that he managed to score 33 goals in 21 consecutive games against all of the other teams in La Liga in the 2012-2013 season. In other words, no one is safe from him when playing against him on the football field.
Written by Garrett Parker
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