La Liga debut
Lionel Messi made his official league debut for Barcelona at the age of 17 years, three months, and 22 days, coming on as a substitute late in the game against Espanyol. There at the time, he was the club’s youngest official player after entering the club’s legendary La Masia programme in 2000, transferring from Argentine club Newell’s Old Boys like a 13-year-old.
Messi made his Argentina debut at the age of 18 in a match against Hungary, going on in the 63rd minute but receiving a red card and being sent off just two minutes later for a reported elbow on defender Vilmos Vanczak.
There’s not any doubt Barcelona seems to have something unique on its hands, and the rest of the world is taking note after he was voted the Golden Boy, Europe’s greatest young player.
First international goal
After just a rocky start to his international career, Messi gets his first score for Argentina in a match defeat to Croatia with a spectacular run and curled left-foot attempt.
World Cup debut
Messi, who came on within the 74th minute over Serbia and Montenegro, became Argentina’s youngest-ever World Cup player. He scored the game-winning goal in a 6-0 victory, becoming the tournament’s youngest scorer and the sixth-youngest scorer in tournament history. However, Argentina is eliminated from the competition in the quarterfinals by host Germany.
First club hat-trick
Messi is quickly becoming known as one of the hottest youngsters in international football, and his three goals against Real Madrid in 2007 cemented his status as a household figure. It’s his first hat-trick for the club, but it won’t be his last.
Barcelona first bans Messi from competing in the event, but new club coach Pep Guardiola intervenes and allows him to compete. Argentina wins every match with an all-star lineup with other teenagers Sergio Aguero and Angel di Maria on their path to a gold medal in the Beijing Olympics.
Champions League success
Messi already had won the Champions League when he initially joined the first club in 2006, but he is the standout performer in 2009. He concludes the tournament as the tournament’s best scorer, scoring in the final against Manchester United in a 2-0 victory at Rome’s Olympic Stadium. He has won four European titles in his career.
First Ballon d’Or
Messi has officially declared the best player in the world for the first time after leading Barcelona to a historic treble that year (the league, domestic cup, and Champions League).
More World Cup agony
Germany defeated Argentina in the quarterfinals of the 2010 World Cup, repeating their 2006 victory. Messi has still been picked to the World Cup Team, but Argentina star Diego Maradona is fired after the tournament. Messi has been accused of caring more about the club than the nation after failing to match his Barcelona achievements and Maradona’s 1986 World Cup heroics.
Barcelona scoring record
The goals keep flowing for the wizard at the club level, and at the age of 24, he eclipses Cesar Rodriguez’s scoring record at Barcelona. His first goal against Granada brings him level on 232, but his second and third break the tie.
Copa America defeat
Messi’s goal in the Copa America Centenario quarterfinals propels him to the top of Argentina’s all-time scoring list, with 54 goals. However, after losing the previous year’s Copa America final to Chile, the 2016 edition follows suit. Messi has announced his retirement from international football.
After a brief campaign to persuade Messi to reconsider his retirement decision, which included appeals from Argentina’s president, Mauricio Macri, and a now unveiled statue of Messi by Buenos Aires mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta, the Barcelona star great options to continue playing for La Albiceleste, stating, “My love for my country and this shirt is too great.”
Record Ballon d’Or wins
Only Cristiano Ronaldo can compete with Messi’s club numbers during his career. For over a decade, the two shared the Ballon d’Or prize, but Messi won it for a record sixth time in 2019. Ronaldo is still on five points.