Lionel Andrés "Leo" Messi (born 24 June 1987) is an Argentine footballer who plays as a forward for La Liga club FC Barcelona and the Argentina national team. He serves as the captain of his country's national football team.
By the age of 21, Messi had received Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year nominations. The following year, in 2009, he won his first Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year awards. He followed this up by winning the inaugural FIFA Ballon d'Or in 2010, and again in 2011 and 2012. He also won the 2010-11 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award.
At the age of 24, Messi became Barcelona's all-time top scorer in all official club competitions. At age 25, Messi became the youngest player to score 200 La Liga goals.
Messi became the first player to top-score in four successive Champions League campaigns. He set the European record for most goals scored in a season during the 2011-12 season, with 73 goals. In the same season, he set the current goalscoring record in a single La Liga season, scoring 50 goals. On 16 February 2013, Lionel Messi scored his 300th Barcelona goal against Granada.
His playing style and stature have drawn comparisons to compatriot Diego Maradona, who himself declared Messi his "successor".
On 2 June, 2012, Messi assisted and scored a goal in Argentina's 4–0 win against Ecuador in a World Cup 2014 Qualifying match. He celebrated scoring his 23rd goal for Argentina by placing the ball under his jersey, as his girlfriend was reportedly 12 weeks pregnant.
On 2 November, 2012, Messi became a father for the first time following the birth of his son, Thiago. The Argentine striker added on his Facebook page: "Today I am the happiest man in the world, my son was born and thanks to God for this gift!"
Messi has maintained close ties to his family since leaving for Spain, and has gone to great lengths to maintain them.
In 2007, Messi established the Leo Messi Foundation, a charity supporting access to education and health care for vulnerable children.
On 11 March, 2010, Messi was announced as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, his activities are aimed at supporting children’s rights. Messi is supported in this by Barcelona, who also have a strong association with UNICEF.
In March 2010, France Football ranked him at the top of its list of the world's richest footballers, ahead of David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo, with £29.6 million (€33 million) in combined income from salaries, bonuses and off-field earnings. His net wealth is estimated at $110 millIon.