You know who he is, even if you don’t follow soccer and only have a passing interest in sports in general. The Argentine has won everything there is to win at club level, but the thing that still remains elusive is World Cup success.
If Messi can finally find his international form in Brazil, he may be considered the greatest footballer of all time.
Why he's so special
The undisputed king of his football generation. Countless records and accolades with Barcelona. Newly minted, highest-paid player in soccer history. And have you watched him play?
On Dec. 9, 2012, Messi broke a 40-year-old record. By scoring two goals against Real Betis, his 85th and 86th in a calendar year, Messi broke Gerd Müller's mark of 85, set in 1972 with Bayern Munich. He’d end up with 91 before the year turned over.
Born: June 24, 1987
Nickname: La Pulga (The Flea)
He said it
"I prefer to win titles with the team ahead of individual awards or scoring more goals than anyone else. I'm more worried about being a good person than being the best football player in the world. When all this is over, what are you left with? When I retire, I hope I am remembered for being a decent guy.”
What they're saying about him
"He's a leader and is offering lessons in beautiful football. He has something different to any other player in the world.” — Argentina legend Diego Maradona.
- Many to choose from, but what most will remember about La Pulga is his otherworldly speed with the ball. He has weaved through an entire defensive line and scored countless times in his career.
- Due to his short stature, you won’t see Messi engage in many aerial battles, and because of that he prefers the ball at his feet and not in the air.
When he was 11, Messi was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. His treatments were covered by Barcelona after he signed with the club at 13.