Argentine football legend and the little maestro, Lionel Andrés Messi, popularly known as Leo Messi, turned 35 on Friday. Regarded by many as one of the greatest ever to grace a football pitch, Messi has been lighting it up on the biggest of stages since the age of 17.
Born on June 24, 1987, Messi started out with teams like Grandoli and Newell's Old Boys back in his native Argentina. At the age of 13, he relocated to Barcelona in Spain, where he made his professional debut for the club aged 17 in October 2004.
Messi played almost his entire professional career for Barcelona, having only switched to Paris Saint Germain in France in a deal ending his famous association with Barca with the club in dire financial crisis.
During his time in Spain, Messi forged a reputation and a list of records beyond the reach of many in today’s game, and perhaps, will never be bettered. His goal scoring records reached new heights every season he spent in the game and he etched his name as one of the greatest ever players to represent the club and his country Argentina in football.
On his birthday, let us look at some of the records that Messi left behind as the little maestro enters the twilight of his career.
The Argentine legend has a record seven Ballon d’Or awards to his name. The award is presented annually by France Football to the best player overall in a calendar year. Messi was also named in the Ballon d’Or Dream Team in 2020.
The award presented the highest goal scorer in league matches from the top division of a European national league. Even as he endured an underwhelming season with PSG, Messi has won the coveted boot a record six times in his career, coming out as the season’s top goal-getter.
One of the records set by the Barca legend that actually seems attainable. Messi has scored a record eight Champions League hat-tricks. He also has the most goals in Champions League group stage at 76. Close behind him his arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo at seven.
Messi will likely continue at the upper echelons of professional football for a few more years, so that record will also likely be extended.
Having been synonymous with Barcelona Football Club, an association that lasted for 21 years, Messi scored a staggering 672 goals. Messi also has the most La Liga hat-tricks at 36, most La Liga goals at 474, most La Liga assists at 192 and most goals in a 38 game La Liga season at 50.
Leo Messi in 2012 scored a mind-numbing 91 goals in a year. That is nine short of a century of goals in 365 days, highlighting what an exceptional player and goal scorer he has been over the years. Second to him is Gerd Muller at 85 goals which he achieved in 1972!
Not only for club, Messi has also repeated his goal scoring feat for his country. He holds the most appearances for Argentina at 160 which is likely to go on as he is yet to retire. Having suffered several heart-breaks on the international stage, Messi guided Argentina to the Copa America trophy in 2021.
These are just some of the feats achieved by one of the forever greats of the game and perhaps, the greatest of all time. Wishing him the best on his birthday.