Written by Avery Rape in 2013
Forward, #10, 26 Years Old
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Known as the best player in the world right now, Lionel Messi began his career in Barcelona at a very young age. The 26 year old was born on June 24, 1987 in Rosario, Argentina, and moved to Spain at 13 to attend La Masia. He made his first appearance for Barcelona at age 16 and became the youngest player ever to score for the club on May 1, 2005. At 5’7 he draws a lot of comparisons to former Argentinian superstar Diego Maradona with his small size and speed. In 2009 his success really began to blossom as he led Barcelona to a Champions League, La Liga, and Spanish Super Cup titles and then also took home his first FIFA World Player of the Year award. In 2012 he entered the record books as he became the first person to score 5 goals in a Champions League match, and became Barcelona’s all-time leading scorer passing Cesar Rodriguez’s 232 goals. That year he scored an incredible 91 goals in club and international play, the most goals scored in a single year. To top it all off, in January 2013 he was named FIFA player of the year for a record fourth time.
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At a young age, Messi decided he would play for his birth country, Argentina, rather than Spain. He made his full team international debut on August 17, 2005 against Hungary and scored his first goal in a friendly against Croatia on March 1, 2006. Messi participated in his first world cup in 2006 where he became the youngest player to represent Argentina at a WC. He scored the final goal in a 6-0 victory against Serbia and Montenegro, becoming the youngest goal scorer in the tournament and the sixth youngest in world Cup tournament history. The 2010 World Cup was the first time Messi wore number ten for Argentina and in a major tournament. However, in the 2010 tournament in South Africa, Messi took on more of a supporting role than a goal-scoring machine. He played attacking midfield and was involved in all of the Argentinian goals, but didn’t score any of them himself. In the round of 16 game against Mexico, he assisted Carlos Tevez for the game winner and was voted man of the match. Argentina would fall the next round in a 4-0 loss to Germany, but Messi was nominated for the Golden Ball award by FIFA Technical Study Group. The group was quoted describing him as “outstanding in his pace and creativity for his team, dribbling, shooting, passing- spectacular and efficient.” In the most recent 2013 club season he was nominated for the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award and finished in second place behind Franck Ribery. In September he scored his 23rd career hat trick and became the first player to score 100 away goals and has scored the most away goals in league history. He is currently in sixth place in scoring in the history of La Liga. Every game he plays, Messi is making history and breaking records.
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One could go on and on with the lists and lists of awards and records that Messi has claimed, however, the one thing left to complete his glamorous career is a successful World Cup. Surprisingly, Messi has only scored 1 goal in the world’s biggest soccer tournament. For someone who is expected to score every game, and usually does score even multiple times a game, this stat is shocking and distracting when summarizing his career. He was not in the spotlight during the 2006 campaign, and played more of a playmaking role rather than a goal-scoring role in the 2010 tournament. Could this be the tournament for Messi to become a true national hero? Argentina has won the World Cup twice, but the last time was in 1986 and they haven’t made it past the quarterfinals since 1990. Over the 16 matches of qualifying, Argentina outscored their opponents 35-16 and are currently ranked third in the world. Team manager Alejandro Sabella must put together the right line up to compete with the world’s best. Messi needs to score goals. An impressive tournament full of scoring and victories would further cement Messi as the greatest player of all time. Messi seems to be building up plenty of speed leading into the 2014 world cup.
Watch Messi’s top goals from 2012-13:
How to cite this article: “Argentina: Lionel Messi,” Written by Avery Rape (2013), World Cup 2014, Soccer Politics Blog, Duke University, http://sites.duke.edu/wcwp (accessed on (date)).