Birthday: June 24, 1987
Birthplace: Rosario, Argentina
Other nationality: Spanish
EU passport: Yes
Height: 169 cm
Weight: 67 kg
Club: FC Barcelona
Debut: 17 November 2003
Lionel Andrés Messi was born on June 24, 1987 in Rosario, Argentina to parents, Jorge and Celia Messi.
He started playing football at the age of 5 for a small club owned by his father and switched over to Newell's Old Boys at the age of 8. Even as a young boy, he did very well in soccer.
When he was 11 years old, he was diagnosed with hormone deficiency. His parents did not have the money to pay for his medical needs, so they looked around for a soccer club that would be able to do this for them.
River Plate looked into the young player, but did not have the £500 a month that would be required to support his medical needs.
Carles Rexach, the FC Barcelona Sporting Director at the time, was of informed of young Lionel's talent and gratefully agreed to take him on if the family would move to Barcelona Spain.
The Messi family happily took the offer.
Upon entering the Barcelona soccer club, Messi did very well through his teen years. He was always one of the better players on every team he played with.
In the B team he scored 37 goals in 30 matches right off the bat, which brought him up to the A team in a very short period of time.
In 2004, when he was only 17 years old, he made his official debut for the senior squad.
Messi has proven his credentials on the biggest stage with goals in two of the three Champions League finals he has won with Barcelona, with his achievements leaving many in little doubt that he is the best player of his generation; possibly of all time.
That idea was given further weight in March 2012 when, at the age of 24, he became the all-time top scorer at Barcelona -- beating the 232 goals of Cesar Rodriguez.
The forward's hat-trick in Barcelona's 4-3 win over Real Madrid in March 2014 also saw him become the all-time top scorer in El Clasico clashes.
Messi endured criticism over his performances during the 2013-14 campaign despite scoring 28 goals in 31 Liga appearances as Barcelona lost the title to Atletico Madrid in a dramatic final day clash, but the forward committed his long-term future to the club with a new deal in May 2014.
Strengths: His ball skills are second to none, his runs from midfield are usually lethal and he is almost impossible to tackle when he gets his head down. His balance when running at speed is incredible.
Weaknesses: Too often he searches for a way to finish moves by himself without looking for team-mates in a better position to shoot at goal.
Career high: Winning the 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 awards for the best player in the world.
Career low: He was unable to perform to his best in the 2006 World Cup in Germany, where Argentina were eliminated in the quarter-finals with Messi looking on from the bench.
Style: Quick, incisive, balanced, a stylish runner with the ball.
Quotes: "Messi is my Maradona," said Maradona himself, as the head coach of the Argentine national team in 2010.