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Lionel Andrés Messi

(Направление деятельности)

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Biography Lionel Andrés Messi
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Lionel Andrés Messi (Spanish pronunciation: [ljoˈnel anˈdɾes ˈmesi], born 24 June 1987) is an Argentine footballer who plays for La Liga club FC Barcelona and is the current captain of the Argentina national team, playing mainly as a forward. He is currently Barcelona's all-time top scorer in all official club competitions, excluding friendlies.

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 both the Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year, and won the inaugural FIFA Ballon d'Or in 2010 and 2011. He also won the 2010-11 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award. Messi is the fourth football player to win three Ballons d'Or, after Johan Cruyff, Michel Platini and Marco van Basten and the second player to win three consecutive Ballons d'Or, after Michel Platini. His playing style and small stature have drawn comparisons to Diego Maradona, who himself declared Messi as his "successor".

Messi has won five La Ligas, two Copas del Rey, five Supercopas de España, three Champions Leagues, two Super Cups and two Club World Cups. In 2012, Messi made UEFA Champions League history by becoming the first player to score five goals in one match, in a 7-1 win against Bayer Leverkusen. With two goals in the next round against Milan, he matched José Altafini's record of 14 goals in a single Champions League season. He also became the first player to top-score in four successive Champions League campaigns. He set the world 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.

Messi was the top scorer of the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship with six goals. In 2006, he became the youngest Argentine to play in the FIFA World Cup and he won a runners-up medal at the Copa América tournament the following year, in which he was elected young player of the tournament. In 2008, he won his first international honour, an Olympic gold medal, with the Argentina Olympic football team. Sportspro has rated Lionel Messi as the 3rd most marketable athlete in the world.

Messi was born in Rosario, Santa Fe Province, to parents Jorge Horácio Messi, a factory steel worker, and Celia María Cuccittini, a part-time cleaner. His paternal family originates from the Italian city of Ancona, from which his ancestor, Angelo Messi, emigrated to Argentina in 1883. He has two older brothers, Rodrigo and Matías, and a sister, María Sol. At the age of five, Messi started playing football for Grandoli, a local club coached by his father Jorge. In 1995, Messi switched to Newell's Old Boys who were based in his home city Rosario.

At the age of 11, Messi was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. Local powerhouse River Plate showed interest in Messi's progress, but did not have enough money to pay for treatment for his condition, which cost $900 a month. Carles Rexach, the sporting director of FC Barcelona, had been made aware of his talent as Messi had relatives in Lleida and Messi and his father were able to arrange a trial with the team. Rexach, with no other paper at hand, offered Messi a contract written on a paper napkin. Barcelona offered to pay for Messi's medical bills if he was willing to move to Spain. Messi and his father moved to Barcelona where Messi enrolled in the club's youth academy.

Style of play

Messi has been compared to compatriot Diego Maradona, due to their similar playing style and stature, which gives him a lower centre of gravity than most players, allowing him to be more agile and change direction more quickly, helping him to evade tackles. His short, strong legs allow him to excel in short bursts of acceleration and his quick feet allow him to keep control of the ball when dribbling at speed.

Messi often undertakes individual dribbling runs towards goal, in particular during counterattacks, usually starting from the halfway line, or the right side of the pitch, although he has also been described as a versatile team player, with good vision, known for his passing and his creative combinations, in particular with Barcelona team mates Xavi and Iniesta. He is also an accurate set piece and penalty kick taker. With regards to his dribbling ability, Maradona has said of Messi: "The ball stays glued to his foot; I've seen great players in my career, but I've never seen anyone with Messi's ball control." Maradona has stated that he believes Messi to currently be the greatest player in the world.

Tactically, Messi plays a free attacking and occasionally a playmaking role, known for his finishing, pace, dribbling, balance, positioning, vision and passing ability. He is comfortable attacking on either wing or through the centre of the pitch. He began his career as a left-winger and forward, but was later moved onto the right wing by former manager Frank Rijkaard, who noticed that from this position, Messi could cut through the defence into the middle of the pitch more easily, allowing him to curl shots on goal with his left foot, rather than predominantly crossing balls for team mates.

He has more recently played in a false 9 role under Guardiola. This role is characterized by Messi's tendency to seemingly be playing as a centre forward, or as a lone striker, although he will often run back into deep positions drawing defenders with him, creating space for wingers, other forwards, and attacking midfielders to make runs, allowing him to provide them with assists or giving him space to begin dribbling runs, score goals or create attacking plays. With the Argentinian National team, Messi usually plays anywhere along the front line. He began as a forward or winger but has also played in a deeper role, in particular under Maradona, in more of an attacking midfield and playmaking role. Messi revealed that he is a fan of the former Argentina playmaker Pablo Aimar.

Personal life

Messi was at one stage romantically linked to Macarena Lemos, also from his hometown of Rosario. He is said to have been introduced to her by the girl's father when he returned to Rosario to recover from his injury a few days before the start of the 2006 World Cup. He has in the past also been linked to the Argentine glamour model Luciana Salazar. In January 2009 he told "Hat Trick Barça", a programme on Canal 33: "I have a girlfriend and she is living in Argentina. I am relaxed and happy". He was seen with the girl, Antonella Roccuzzo, at a carnival in Sitges after the Barcelona-Espanyol derby.

Roccuzzo is a fellow native of Rosario. On June 2, 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 is reportedly 12 weeks pregnant. She posted on Twitter that she is expected to give birth in September.

Messi has two cousins also involved in football: Maxi, a winger for Club Olimpia of Paraguay, and Emanuel Biancucchi, who plays as a midfielder for Spain's Girona FC.

Charity

In 2007, Messi established the Leo Messi Foundation, a charity supporting access to education and health care for vulnerable children. In response to Messi's own childhood medical difficulties, the Leo Messi Foundation has offered Argentine children diagnosed with illnesses treatment in Spain and funds covering the transport, hospital and recuperation costs. Messi's foundation is supported by his own fundraising activity with additional assistance from Herbalife.

On 11 March 2010 Messi was announced as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. Messi's UNICEF ambassador activities are aimed at supporting children's rights. Messi is supported in this by Barcelona, who also have a strong association with UNICEF.

Wealth

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 millon.

Media

Messi was featured on the front covers of the video games Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 and Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 and is also involved in promotional campaigns for the games. Messi, along with Fernando Torres, is the face of Pro Evolution Soccer 2010, and was also involved in the motion capturing and the trailer. However, in November 2011 Messi was confirmed as the new face of PES's rival football series FIFA with his debut as a cover star of the series coming in 2012's FIFA Street. Messi was also chosen to be on the cover of FIFA 13. Messi is sponsored by the German sportswear company Adidas and features in their television advertisements. In June 2010, Messi also signed a three-year contract with Herbalife which further supports the Leo Messi Foundation.
Messi was named twice in the Time 100, the magazine's annual list of the most influential people in the world, respectively in 2011 and in 2012.

Also in April 2011, Messi launched a Facebook page and within a few hours, his page had attracted more than six million followers. His Facebook page had over 33 million followers in March 2012.

In May 2012, ex-Real Madrid player Royston Drenthe claimed Lionel Messi repeatedly called him "negro" during his time in Spain. A counter statement issued by Barcelona said: "Messi has always shown a maximum respect and sportsmanship towards his rivals, something which has been recognized by his fellow professionals many times.

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