Defining Moments Football London

Defining Moment: Lionel Messi Signs For Barcelona

In the spirit of football, we look at arguably one of the greatest player ever to grace the beautiful game, Lionel Messi.

In this very week 13 years ago, Lionel Andrés “Leo Messi Cuccittini signed his  first professional contract for Barcelona. Having signed his first professional contract on a paper napkin as an 11 year old, Messi moved from his hometown of Rosario to Barcelona with his father and enrolled in Barcelona’s famed La Masia Academy in 1998. The rest, as they say, is history.

Messi made his Barcelona debut as a precocious 17 year old in 2004. SInce, then Messi has flourished into one of the greatest footballers the world has ever seen, claiming personal accolades after accolades as well playing an instrumental role in establishing Barcelona as one of the greatest team in football history.

Messi’s list of honours reads as long as a laundry list.  Messi has helped Barcelona win six La Liga titles,  two Copa Del Rey titles, three Champions League trophies, two UEFA Super Cup and one FIFA Club World Club.

At international level, he was an Olympic Gold medal winner with Argentina at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and nearly inspired Argentina to a world cup triumph in Rio in 2014

Personal accolades naturally followed and Messi was voted winner of the prestigious Ballon d’Or a record four years his peers and the footballing world.

Records continued to tumble. He holds the Guinness World record for scoring for the most consecutive league matches scored in 21 matches (33 goals) and the record for the most European Shoe Award. In 2012, Messi again broke another record for the most goals scored in a calendar year by scoring 91 goals, surpassing Germany legend Gerd Muller.

Incredibly, this is only a small selection of his achievements and at only 27 years of age, Messi looks set to continue to baffle the football world with his record-breaking exploits.

Messi is only 11 goals behind Gabriel Batistuta in Argentina’s all-time goal scoring record. As recent as last weekend, Messi reached yet another landmark as the talismanic made his 300th La Liga game for Barcelona on Sunday against Levante.

Luis Enrique was fulsome in his praise in advance of Messi’s 300th appearance, “Leo’s numbers are from another galaxy, in terms of goals, assists, personal trophies and collective trophy” the Barca manager enthused.

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Naturally, Messi is often compared to compatriot and Argentine legend, Diego Maradona due to their similar style of play and stature. His short stature gives him a low centre of gravity allowing him to to be more agile and change direction quickly to evade tackles. His short, strong legs allows him excel in short burst of acceleration and his quick feet allows him to control the ball whilst going at high speed. “Messi is the only player that runs faster with the ball than he does without it” said former coach Pep Guardiola.

Messi has been described as a “hard-working, versatile team-player known for his passing and creative combinations. He is also an accurate free-kick and penalty taker.

Messi’s stats are staggering and his extraordinary style of play and record-breaking exploits often enables many to draw comparison to that of a computer game.

Barcelona took a risk in signing a boy from Argentina diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency . Needless to say, the risk paid off handsomely.

For Messi, there could perhaps be no better club for him to develop other than Barcelona and it’s world-famous La Masia training academy alongside fellow team-mates Gerrard Pique, Andres Iniesta, Carles Puyol, Xavi Hernandez and Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas. Would Messi have become the player he is today if he was another club? Debatable. Messi signing for Barcelona put a young boy from Argentina on the path to become perhaps the greatest footballer the world has ever seen.