Messi's Career In Photos

A look at Lionel Messi's rise from modest beginnings in Rosario, Argentina to global superstardom as FC Barcelona's greatest player of all time.

Looking back at his career, Lionel Messi must sometimes marvel at the stupendous fairy tale of his own life. Born to two factory workers in a town known (before Messi) for industry alone, he has risen into a stratosphere unimaginable to most – certainly to a quiet, diminutive boy from Roasario, Argentina.

We take a look here at his life in pictures, from his humble origins to his current status as perhaps the greatest player of all time.

A Ball Always At His Feet
Messi Photos - Lionel Messi as a kid
Photo: YouTube

"As a kid I always had a ball on me, from the time I woke up till I went to bed. Sometimes I slept with it."

The man we now know simply as "Messi" was born into this world Lionel Andrés Messi on June 24th, 1987 in Rosario, Argentina. He was the third child of four, which makes us think his older siblings must have been continually angry about the relentless nutmegs from their baby brother. His father (Jorge Messi) ran a steel factory and his mother (Celia Cuccuttini) worked in a magnet manufacturing workshop. It is a safe bet that they have not retained these careers. Unless their son is very mean.

Small But Mighty (a.k.a. The Origins Of The Atomic Flea)
Messi Photos - Messi's first team, Grandoli
Photo: Taringa

OK, seriously, cut it out. (Messi is second row, second from the right. And the most adorable soccer genius we've ever seen.)

Messi grew up in a footballing family. From an early age, he played with his older brothers, Rodrigo and Matias (who became professionals themselves). At age four, he joined a local club – Grandoli – coached by his father. He was short for his age. And still is. And it still doesn't matter.

That One Time Messi Rode The Bench
Messi Photos - Messi on the bench
Photo: In Messi We Believe | Facebook

We can't believe it either, Kid Messi. (Also, what's Neymar doing in the middle?)

Messi moved on to play for Newell's Old Boys, a Rosario-based club. He played for the club for six years and scored almost 500 goals as a member of a nearly unbeatable youth side nicknamed "The Machine of '87" (based on their birth year). Clearly this was the one and only time he sat the bench.

Messi To La Masia
Messi Photos - Messi with Cesc Fàbregas
Photo: TheLionelMessi.com

Messi made fast friends with Cesc Fàbregas and others upon his arrival on Barcelona's youth team.

Despite being diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency (which cosy $1,000 or more per month to have treated), Messi received a trial with Barcelona in September 2000. It turns out, Barcelona almost didn't sign Messi. After first team director Charly Rexach saw him play, he was convinced. But the board of directors weren't so sure. When Messi's family asked for a commitment, all Rexach was able to offer was a contract drawn up on a paper napkin. Apparently that was enough.

A Winning Youth Side
Messi Photos - Pique, Cesc and Messi celebrating in 2003
Photo: FC Barcelona HD | Facebook

Winners.

Messi was the star of Barcelona's "Baby Dream Team." Along with Gerard Pique and Cesc Fabregas, Messi was part of the most successful youth side the club had ever seen (and perhaps ever will see). He was the youth club's top scorer in 2002-2003 with 36 goals in 30 games. His pace hasn't much diminished since then.

A Meteoric Rise
Messi Photos - First team debut
Photo: @FootballBattles | Twitter

Messi makes his debut for FC Barcelona at 16 years, four months and 23 days old.

After finding success with FC Barcelona's youth side, Messi made a shocking rise through the club ranks between 2003-2005 – debuting for a record five teams in a single season. He was promptly called up to the first team for his debut during a 2004 international break when Barca's ranks were depleted.

Messi And Ronaldinho
Messi Photos - Messi & Ronaldinho
Photo: Leo Messi Fans | Facebook

Fast friends, Messi and Ronaldinho in 2004-2005.

After Messi trained with the senior squad, then-Barcelona-star Ronaldinho told the world that he thought Messi would become an even better player than himself.

The First Treble
Messi Photos - Messi and Andres Iniesta hold up the 2009 Champions League trophy
Photo: Nexton Sports

Messi and Iniesta hoist the 2009 Champions League trophy.

Upon Ronaldinho's departure from Barcelona, Messi was given the #10 shirt to wear. He was quick to pay back the honor, helping Barcelona win the first treble in the history of Spanish football.

Breaking All The Records
Messi Photos - 2012 Golden Ball
Photo: Maxisport | Shutterstock.com

Messi holds up his Golden ball, before the Spanish league match between Barcelona and Espanyol at the Camp Nou stadium on December 12, 2009 in Barcelona, Spain

Messi reached the peak of his abilities in an incredible year, 2012. He became the top goal-scorer in Barcelona's history at 24 years old, overtaking a 57-year-old record set by César Rodríguez.

An Elusive Trophy
Messi Photos - Messi stares at the World Cup trophy
Photo: @SoccerIsArt | Twitter

The one that got away.

Despite a strong performance throughout a 2014 World Cup in which he served as Argentina's captain, Messi was unable (once again) to bring home the trophy. Argentina fell to Germany in the final.

A New Look, A New Year
Messi Photos - Blond Messi
Photo: YouTube

Blondes have more fun.

A turbulent 2016 has seen dramatic highs and lows for Messi. He started the year winning another treble for Barcelona, cementing his legacy as one of the all-time greats. However, he was unable to bring home the trophy at the 2016 Copa America for Argentina - and announced his retirement from international football coming out of that tournament. He subsequently reversed curse on this decision. The question remains, will we see a trophy for Argentina in Russia in 2018?

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