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Lionel Andrés "Leo" Messi was born on 24 June
1987 and is an Argentine footballer. His father Jorge Horacio Mess is a factory
worker, and mother Celia María Cuccittini, a part-time cleaner . He is
considered one of the best football players of his generation and frequently
cited as the world's best contemporary player, Messi received several Ballon
d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year nominations by the age of 21 and won both
by the age of 22. His playing style and ability have drawn comparisons to Diego
Maradona, who himself declared Messi his "successor". Lionel Messi has won his
second straight FIFA player of the year award 2010 at the age of 23, becoming
the first repeat winner since Ronaldinho in 2004 and 2005.
He has two older brothers named Rodrigo and Matías as well as a sister named
Maria Sol. Messi started playing football for Grandoli, a local club coached by
his father Jorge. In 1995, Messi switched to Newell's Old Boys who were based in
his home city Rosario.] At the age of 11, he was diagnosed with a growth hormone
deficiency. His potential was quickly identified by Barcelona. He left
Rosario-based Newell's Old Boys's youth team in 2000 and moved with his family
to Europe, as Barcelona offered treatment for his growth hormone deficiency.
Making his debut in the 2004–05 season, he broke his team record for the
youngest footballer to score a league goal. Major honours soon followed as
Barcelona won La Liga in Messi's debut season, and won a double of the league
and Champions League in 2006. His breakthrough season was in the 2006–07 season;
he became a first team regular, scoring a hat-trick in El Clásico and finishing
with 14 goals in 26 league games. Perhaps his most successful season was the
2008–09 season, in which Messi scored 38 goals to play an integral part in a
treble-winning campaign. In the following 2009–10 campaign, Messi scored 47
goals in all competitions, equalling Ronaldo's record total for Barcelona.
Messi was the top scorer of the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship with six
goals, including two in the final game. Shortly thereafter, he became an
established member of Argentina's senior international team. In 2006, he became
the youngest Argentine to play in the FIFA World Cup and he won a runners-up
medal at the Copa América tournament the following year. In 2008, in Beijing, he
won his first international honour, an Olympic gold medal, with the Argentina
Olympic football team.
Lionel Messi was announced as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF on 11 March 2010.