Lionel Messi started his career in academies in Argentina, but by his teenage years he was in Barcelona, developing into a footballing genius.
Messi was treated for a growth hormone deficiency as he honed his skills in the famed La Masia academy, walking an unusual path to superstardom.
Offers from abroad were rejected in favour of remaining with Barcelona. Messi flourished at La Masia, ultimately earning a call-up to the first team as a teenager and earning praise from Ronaldinho after his initial training session with the senior squad.
The Argentine has had a career unlike any other in the history of the sport. Let’s take a look at his biggest achievements and records.
Lionel Messi’s Barcelona Records
- Messi won six of his record-setting seven Ballon d’Or awards while playing for Barcelona, with the last of the seven coming months after he joined Paris Saint-Germain.
- Between 2009 and 2012, Messi became the only player to win the Ballon d’Or in four consecutive years.
- Messi won 10 La Liga titles (2004-05, 2005-06, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11, 2012-13, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2017-18, 2018-19) and four Champions Leagues (2005-06, 2008-09, 2010-11, 2013-14) at Barcelona.
- Messi is Barcelona’s all-time leading goal scorer with 672 goals in 778 appearances.
- The Argentine broke Cesar Rodriguez’s record for the most Barcelona goals when he was just 24 years of age with a hat-trick against Granada in 2012.
- His tally for Barcelona is the most official goals for a single club of any footballer.
- Messi is one of two players (the other is Cristiano Ronaldo) in Champions League history to score over 100 goals, with 120 of his 129 coming for Barcelona.
- In 2011-12, Messi scored 73 times, the most by any player in a club season.
- In 2012, Messi broke Gerd Müller’s 40-year record for the most goals scored in a calendar year by netting a brace against Real Betis.
- The 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons saw Messi become the only player in football history to have consecutive seasons with 60 or more goals in all competitions.
- Between 2009-10 and 2018-19, Messi became the only player ever to have 12 consecutive seasons with 40 or more club goals.
- When Messi made his league debut in October 2004, he was the youngest player to represent Barcelona in an official competition.
- Messi scored his first senior goal in May 2005, and became the club’s youngest ever goal scorer.
- In March 2021, Messi made his 768th appearance for Barcelona to break Xavi’s club record.
- Messi has won the European Golden Shoe a record six times, and won the award in three straight years between 2017 and 2019.
- Between 2009 and 2019, Messi set the record for the largest gap between his first and last Ballon d’Or wins.
- Messi holds the record (80 goals) for the most goals scored in the Champions League group stages.
- Messi has been named to the Champions League Squad of the Season a record seven times.
- In 2015, Messi became the only player to score in seven official competitions in a single season: La Liga, the Copa del Rey, UEFA Champions League, Copa América, UEFA Super Cup, Supercopa de España and FIFA Club World Cup.
- France Football named Messi in the 2010s Team of the Decade.
Lionel Messi’s La Liga Records
- Messi’s 474 goals in 520 appearances is the most of all-time ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo’s tally of 311.
- Messi has 233 La Liga assists, more than any other player.
- In 2012-13, Messi set the La Liga record for the longest scoring run at 21 matches (he scored 33 goals over that span).
- Messi has won the Pichichi Trophy on eight occasions, two more times than anyone else.
- Messi has been named Best Player in La Liga on six occasions, more than any other player.
- His 2011-12 season was his most prolific with 50 La Liga goals, setting the record for the most in a single campaign.
- Messi’s total of 36 La Liga hat-tricks is the most all-time, and eight of those came in 2011-12, which is also a record.
- The Argentine holds the record for the most El Clásico goals with 26, eight ahead of anyone else.
- Messi is tied with Real Madrid legend Sergio Ramos for the most El Clásico appearances on 45.
- In 2019-20, he set a La Liga record with 21 assists in a single season.
- Messi has been the La Liga top assist provider on six occasions.
Lionel Messi’s Argentina Records
- Messi has scored 90 goals in 164 Argentina caps since debuting in 2005.
- Messi has the most caps of any Argentina player.
- The leading scorer in CONMEBOL, only Cristiano Ronaldo and Ali Daei have scored more international goals than Messi.
- After finishing as a runner-up in 2007, 2015 and 2016, Messi won the Copa America in 2021 and was awarded Best Player.
- Messi has the most Copa America appearances and the most assists in the history of the tournament.
- Messi’s 12 Argentina goals in 2012 is tied with Gabriel Batistuta for the most goals in a calendar year.
- Messi holds the record for the most goal contributions at major international tournaments with 40.
Lionel Messi’s World Cup Records
- Messi has made 19 World Cup appearances across the 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018 tournaments.
- Messi won the Golden Ball at the 2014 World Cup despite Argentina’s final loss to Germany.
- Four of Messi’s six World Cup goals were scored at the 2014 edition with one scored in 2010 and one in 2018.
- Only two Argentines – Diego Maradona and Gabriel Batistuta – have scored more World Cup goals than Messi.
- Messi holds the record for the most Man of the Match awards at the World Cup with six.
- His four Man of the Match awards at the 2014 World Cup is the most won by a player at a single edition of the tournament.
- When he scored against Serbia and Montenegro at the 2006 World Cup, Messi became Argentina’s youngest goal scorer in the competition.
- Messi is the only player to win the Golden Ball at the senior World Cup, the under-20 World Cup and Copa America.