2006 FIFA World Cup

Lionel Messi, football prodigy from Argentina overcomes hardship

© UNICEF Spain
Born in Rosario, Argentina, Lionel Messi now plays for FC Barcelona.

Argentine teenage football prodigy Lionel Messi is considered by many the most exciting young player in professional football. No stranger to hardship, he has suffered from a hormone deficiency since he was an adolescent but did not let the disorder deter him.

Born in Rosario Argentina, Mr. Messi took to the football field at an early age, playing for hometown clubs Grandoli and Newell's Old Boys. At the age of 17, he would find himself half-way around the world, playing striker for FC Barcelona, one of the most widely recognized teams in professional football. He had come a long way from Argentina after leaving his hometown at 13 to seek treatment for his medical condition. 

Realizing his dream

In Barcelona, Mr. Messi continued to triumph over adversity, landing himself a spot with the FC Barcelona B team as a young teenager. After averaging more than a goal per game, he was brought up to the professional level. He made his debut with FC Barcelona’s first squad in 2004, the third youngest person ever to play for the team.

Mr. Messi appeared in nine matches that season, achieving his first UEFA Champions League start and scoring his first goal a minute after coming onto the field in a 2-0 win against Albacete Balompié.

In June 2005, after turning down an opportunity to play for the Spanish national team to realize his dream of playing for his birth country, Mr. Messi starred for the Argentina U-20 team. He proudly led Argentina that year to the Football World Youth Championship in The Netherlands, winning both the Golden Boot as top scorer with six goals and the Golden Ball for the best player of the tournament.

Recently, the young Mr. Messi renewed his contract with FC Barcelona through 2010, delighting Barcelona fans and opening a pathway toward greatness for one of Europe’s brightest stars.




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