Lionel Andrés Messi was born 24 June 1987. He is an Argentine footballer who plays for La Liga club FC Barcelona and is the captain of the Argentina national team, playing mainly as a forward. He is Barcelona's all-time top scorer in all official club competitions, excluding friendlies. By the age of 21, Messi had received Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year nominations. Messi played in Barcelona's junior Infantil B and Cadete B & A teams from 2000 to 2003 (scoring 37 goals in 30 matches in Cadete A).
Season 2003–04 saw him on a record five different teams: He started one match in Juvenil B (one goal) and got promoted to Juvenil A (14 matches, 21 goals). Later he debuted for FC Barcelona C team (Tercera División) on 29 November 2003 and for FC Barcelona B (Segunda División B) on 6 March 2004.
The following year in 2009 he won the Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year, and the inaugural FIFA Ballon d'Or in 2010 and 2011. He also won the 2010–11 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award.
Messi was the top scorer of the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship with six goals. 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 which he was elected young player of the tournament. In 2008, he won his first international honour, an Olympic gold medal, with the Argentina Olympic football team. Sportspro has rated Lionel Messi as the third most marketable athlete in the world. During Barcelona's first game of the season against Real Sociedad, Messi continued his goalscoring run with 2 goals in a 5-1 win at the Camp Nou. Messi added another goal from a penalty in a 3:2 win against rivals Real Madrid in the first leg of the 2012 Supercopa de España in Barcelona on 23 August. He added another brace against Osasuna as Barcelona came from behind away from home to beat them 2:1. Messi added another goal from a free kick in the second leg of the Supercopa de España, as Barcelona, down to ten men, were defeated by Real Madrid on away goals. This marked his 15th goal in the Clasico Real Madrid-Barcelona derby, which made him Barcelona's top scorer in Clasico matches, putting him tied with Raul, behind only Alfredo Di Stefano, with 18 goals.
Messi placed second along with Cristiano Ronaldo in the 2012 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award, with 17 votes each. The award was won by Messi's Barcelona team mate Andres Iniesta. In his third league appearance on 2 September against Valencia, Messi assisted the only goal of the match, by team mate Adriano, from a short corner. Messi scored two more goals in a win against Getafe on 15 September and added another brace in his first Champion's League match of the season against Spartak Moscow on 20 September, ending in a 3-2 win to Barcelona, also marking his tenth goal of the season.
Messi is the fourth football player to win three Ballons d'Or, and the second player to win three consecutive Ballons d'Or. Messi has won five La Ligas, two Copas del Rey, five Supercopas de España, three Champions Leagues, two Super Cups and two Club World Cups. In 2012, Messi made UEFA Champions League history by becoming the first player to score five goals in one match. He also matched José Altafini's record of 14 goals in a single Champions League season. He also became the first player to top-score in four successive Champions League campaigns. He set the world record for most goals scored in a season during the 2011–12 season, with 73 goals. In the same season, he set the current goalscoring record in a single La Liga season, scoring 50 goals.
He played for both teams during the season (eight matches, five goals and five games, zero goals, respectively). Even before these two debuts, Messi made his official debut for the first-team on 16 November 2003 aged 16 years and 145 days, in a friendly match against Porto.
Often referred to as an Argentinian-Spanish player, this crossover was brought into sharp focus when in 2004, Lionel was offered the chance to play for the Spanish national U-20 team. He declined the offer given his Argentinian heritage, and was given the opportunity to play for Argentina's U-20 team in a friendly match against Paraguay in June 2004. Messi scored once against Paraguay and twice in friendly against Uruguay in July 2004. In 2005 he was part of a team that finished third in 2005 South American Youth Championship in Colombia. He won the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship in the Netherlands with the team and won the Golden Ball and the Golden Shoe, scoring in the last four of Argentina's matches and netting a total of six for the tournament.
Messi was at one stage romantically linked to Macarena Lemos, also from his hometown of Rosario. He is said to have been introduced to her by the girl's father when he returned to Rosario to recover from his injury a few days before the start of the 2006 World Cup. He has in the past also been linked to the Argentine glamour model Luciana Salazar. In January 2009 he told «Hat Trick Barça», a programme on Canal 33: «I have a girlfriend and she is living in Argentina. I am relaxed and happy». He was seen with the girl, Antonella Roccuzzo, at a carnival in Sitges after the Barcelona-Espanyol derby. Roccuzzo is a fellow native of Rosario. On 2 June 2012, Messi assisted and scored a goal in Argentina's 4:0 win against Ecuador in a World Cup 2014 Qualifying match. He celebrated scoring his 23rd goal for Argentina, by placing the ball under his jersey, as his girlfriend is reportedly 12 weeks pregnant. She posted on Twitter that she is expected to give birth in September.