Lionel Messi is already a legend in football, with an incredible 791 goals for country and club, 41 team trophies, and a record seven Ballon d’Ors.
For the legendary Argentinian star, Sunday is all that matters – lifting the World Cup.
This evening, the 35-year old will lead his team in the pursuit of the only trophy that has yet to be won – the largest of all.
The win would be a filling of a void in his trophy collection and also end 36 years worth of pain for Argentina, who won the tournament last year thanks to Diego Maradona, another legend from La Albiceleste.
Many believe that Messi would win the World Cup, which would cement his status as the greatest footballer on the planet. This is after many years of debating between him and Cristiano Ronaldo.
He will have to lead his team past France, the defending champions. France will be trying to make history at Qatar’sLusail Stadium, becoming the third team to win back to back World Cup trophies.
Here’s a look at Messi’s remarkable career in numbers, ahead of tonight’s crunch clash.
1987: A star is born
Messi was the son of a steel factory manager father, and a magnet manufacturing shop mother. He was raised in Rosario, a central Argentinian town, northwest of Buenos Aires.
He was a childhood football player who played with his brothers Rodrigo, Matias and his cousins Maximiliano, and Emanuel Biancucchi. Both went on to become professional footballers.
At the age of four, he began playing in a soccer team. He then joined Newell’s Old Boys when he was six. There, he displayed his goal-scoring prowess, scoring almost 500 goals for a youth team called “The Machine of 1987”.
Later, it was discovered that Messi’s young age had led to a growth hormone deficit. This condition could have been fatal for his career.
His father used his health insurance initially to pay the $1,000 per month treatment. This involved Messi injecting hormones into his legs every night.
Messi’s father asked Newell for a contribution after the insurance coverage ended.
The club declined to fund the entire treatment due to part of the country’s current economic difficulties.
13: The age Messi signed in Barcelona
Messi’s father searched further, to Spain, in search of a club that would fund his son’s treatment for hormones. This led to him deciding to try out Barcelona.
After some hesitation from the La Liga team, Charly Rexach, the first club director, offered Messi’s family an agreement on a napkin.
At 14 years old, Messi received his growth hormone treatment. After approval by Spain’s football federation he joined Barcelona’s renowned La Masia youth academy.
He was part of Barcelona’s greatest ever youth team, scoring 36 goals in thirty games. His goal-scoring record helped guide the team to a remarkable league and cup treble.
17 – Messi’s professional debut
After dominating the youth leagues, Messi was a diminutive forward of 5ft 7in with excellent ball control, balance and a great left foot. He made his debut in the team at 16 in a friendly match.
At 17 years and three months old, he made his professional debut in a match against Espanyol.
He played 244 minutes in nine matches that season, scoring his first goal against Albacete in May 2005.
He made his debut for Argentina in August that year with a 2-1 victory over Hungary.
791 – Messi’s total goal count
Messi’s astonishing 791 goal return is spread across 1,002 professional matches for country and club.
There is much debate about whether or not to include friendly goals in official records. However, the International Federation of Football History and Statistics states that Messi is just behind arch-rival Cristiano Rorazo in the all time goalscoring charts.
He does however have 350 assists to him – 116 more than Ronaldo and has played 143 less games.
Messi holds many records in goalscoring. He is the all-time top goalscorer for Argentina (627), and Argentina (96).
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He also holds the record for the world’s most goals in a single season (71) beating Gerd Müller’s record of 67.
Messi has scored 11 World Cup goals in his career across five tournaments. He is also the only player to have scored a World Cup goal in his teens and 20s.
41 – The total number of trophies Messi won
A World Cup win would bring Messi, who has 40 club and international trophies, one step closer to the title of Most Distinguished Footballer in History, currently held by Dani Alves, his former Brazilian teammate (42).
Messi won 10 La Liga titles, 7 Champions League trophies, and 15 domestic cups over his two-decades with Barcelona.
He won the Club World Cup as well as the European Super Cup each three times.
He has won almost every major international competition for Argentina. The World Cup is the only one that he has not won, except the Copa America, Finalissima, and an Olympic Gold Medal.
He holds one Ligue 1 title at his club, Paris Saint-Germain.
49 – The total number of individual honors Messi has received
Apart from club and international honors, Messi has a lot of individual awards. The last one in 2021 was seven Ballon d’Or trophies.
He has also won nine La Liga Most Valuable Player awards (MVP) and the 2014 World Cup Golden Ball Award. His Argentina team lost the final to Germany in that tournament.
Messi has six European Golden Shoe Awards and an MVP trophy from the 2021 Copa America. These awards are part of his legacy as a successful leader in Argentina.
Three – Messi’s children
Messi, along with Antonella Roccuzzo, has three children off the pitch: Thiago, Mateo and Ciro.
They have been together since the age of 20.
Like Messi, Roccuzzo hails from Rosario in Argentina, where they were married in 2017.