|“Every child has the right to grow up healthy, especially handicapped children.” Leo Messi|
Leo Messi, FC Barcelona and Argentine national team soccer star is considered to be one of the best and most respected players of his generation. On 11 March, Mr. Messi was appointed a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
Mr. Messi has dedicated time to UNICEF since 2004, supporting the offices in Spain and Argentina with advocacy and fundraising. He was among a team of top soccer players who were featured in a Public Service Announcement to launch the FIFA-UNICEF joint campaign for the 2006 FIFA World Cup held in Germany under the banner ‘Unite for Children, Unite for Peace.' In 2007, he participated in a local UNICEF telethon called ‘Un Sol para los Chicos’ which raised over US$1 million to benefit UNICEF projects in Argentina.
Mr. Messi was born in Rosario, Argentina in 1987. He started playing football at a very early age. He joined La Masia, FC Barcelona football academy when his family moved to Spain. There he played in the youth teams with an outstanding performance and in May 2005, he became the youngest player ever to score a Spanish league goal at age 17.
Mr. Messi was named the FIFA World Player of the Year in 2009. That same year he also won the prestigious Golden Ball award for the Best European footballer of the year.
His personal childhood experiences have been the driving force behind his commitment and desire to help vulnerable children and to engage in charitable activities. In 2008, he founded the Leo Messi Foundation, which collaborates with several medical and cultural institutions to give children and youth in Argentina and Spain a better chance in life.
Mr. Messi lives in Barcelona, Spain.