Picsart2016-24-6--14-05-33

Lionel AndrésLeoMessi , an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a forward for Spanish club Barcelona and the Argentina national team, turns 29 today.

Often considered the best player in the world and rated by many in the sport as the greatest of all time, Messi is the only football player in history to win five FIFA Ballons d’Or, four of which he won consecutively, and the first player to win three European Golden Shoes. With Barcelona he has won eight La Liga titles and four UEFA Champions League titles, as well as four Copas del Rey. A prolific goalscorer, Messi holds the records for most goals scored in La Liga, a La Liga season (50), a calendar year (91), a single season (73), a Champions League match (five), and most Champions League seasons (five).

Born and raised in central Argentina, Messi was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency as a child. At age 13, he relocated to Spain to join Barcelona, who agreed to pay for his medical treatment. After a fast progression through Barcelona’s youth academy, Messi made his competitive debut aged 17 in October 2004. Despite being injury-prone during his early career, he established himself as an integral player for the club within the next three years, finishing 2007 as a finalist for both the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year award, a feat he repeated the following year. His first uninterrupted campaign came in the 2008–09 season, during which he helped Barcelona achieve the first treble in Spanish football. At 22 years old, Messi won the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year award by record voting margins.

Three successful seasons followed, with Messi winning three consecutive FIFA Ballons d’Or, including an unprecedented fourth. His personal best campaign to date was the 2011–12 season, in which he set the La Liga and European records for most goals scored in a single season, while establishing himself as Barcelona’s all-time top scorer in official competitions in March 2012. He again struggled with injury during the following two seasons, twice finishing second for the Ballon d’Or behind Cristiano Ronaldo, his perceived career rival. Messi regained his best form during the 2014–15 campaign, breaking the all-time goalscoring records in both La Liga and the Champions League in November 2014, and led Barcelona to a historic second treble.

As an Argentine international, Messi is Argentina’s all-time leading goalscorer with 55 goals in 112 matches. He has represented his country in six major tournaments. At youth level, he won the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship, finishing the tournament as its best player and top scorer, and an Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics. His style of play as a diminutive, left-footed dribbler drew comparisons with compatriot Diego Maradona, who declared the teenager his successor. After making his senior debut in August 2005, Messi became the youngest Argentine to play and score in a FIFA World Cup during the 2006 edition, and reached the final of the 2007 Copa América, where he was named young player of the tournament. As the squad’s captain since August 2011, he led Argentina to the finals of the 2014 World Cup and the 2015 Copa América, and both times was selected as player of the tournament.

Leo Messi on Argentina in Copa America

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Lionel Messi insists Argentina will continue to grow at the Copa America Centenario, despite an impressive unbeaten run through the group stage of the competition.

The Barcelona superstar did not participate in the Albiceleste‘s Group D opening win against Chile because of back injury, but starred as a substitute in their 5-0 defeat of Panama and 3-0 defeat of Bolivia.

Entering the Copa, Argentina were seen as the favourites to end their 23-year senior trophy drought. And while Messi has already seen an evolution of the team in the tournament, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner maintains Gerardo Martino’s side will continue to improve as the stakes increase.

“As we move forward, we’re going to grow,” Messi told Ole.

“We are doing well in all aspects. We have already been working together for a while and have got to know the coaching staff, and they us.

“From the beginning until now, we have grown a lot.”

Argentina have reached the final of the past two major tournaments they have disputed — the 2014 World Cup and the 2015 Copa America — losing both.

If they are to reach a third straight, they must first navigate a tricky quarterfinal matchup with Venezuela who, despite their low standing in the South American World Cup qualifiers, Messi says should not be underestimated.

“We are aware there is no margin for error. Very tough matches are coming,” Messi said.

“Some think Venezuela are an easy opponent but they are not. We will not take anything for granted, we know what is at stake.

“If Venezuela have reached the quarterfinals it’s on merit. No one gave them anything.

“They are not better than Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay, obviously, but if Venezuela are there they deserve it.”

Once again,Wishing a very very HAPPY BIRTHDAY from sgsfootball.

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