Argentine footballer Lionel Messi is widely considered the greatest footballer to grace the beautiful game, both for his extraordinary statistics and hazy, magical moments across turfs in Europe and beyond.
Thirteen years after his Barca debut – incidentally he wore the jersey number 30 then – Messi has fulfilled the ‘prophecy’ of many by going on to become the most consequential player of his generation, raising the bar to heights hitherto unimagined.
Here’s all you need to Know about Lionel Messi as he turns 40 today.
* Messi became Barca’s youngest ever goalscorer when he came on to score in a La Liga game against Albacete in 2004 (He’s since been beaten by Bojan Krkic).
* He inspired Argentina to Olympic gold in Beijing 2008, scoring five goals and providing the assist for the winner against Nigeria in the final.
* Overtook Telmo Zarra (253 goals) as La Liga’s all-time leading scorer after netting a hat-trick against Sevilla in 2014.
* Holds the record as the highest scorer for Argentina (58), La Liga (349), El Clasico (23), most goals in a year (91), most goals in a season (73), longest consecutive league goals (21).
* Record five ballons d’Or, including four straight gongs from 2009 to 2012.
There have been low points in his career as well, topmost of which was his brief international retirement after losing a second straight Copa America final to Chile in 2016, two years after falling short in the World Cup final to Germany.
He was sentenced to 21 months in jail in July 2016 after a Spanish court found him guilty of defrauding the taxman of €4.1m between 2007 and 2009. He had denied the charges.
Bad boy Messi has got two kids with girlfriend Antonella Roccuzzo, has a giant tattoo on his right arm, has scored with his hand, and pulled off the greatest move on a football pitch