Prior to the 2022 FIFA World Cup getting underway, Lionel Messi was widely considered to be one of the greatest soccer players of all time. Following the tournament’s conclusion, he left no doubt and put the debate to bed once and for all. OddsChecker, which compares football odds and offers, had made Messi’s Argentina the favourites for glory this winter in Qatar. And in the end – despite an early scare – they lived up to the billing.
The Albiceleste defeated some of the planet’s finest footballing nations at the World Cup this year, setting up a mouth-watering final against reigning champions France. In the pulsating Lusail Iconic Stadium showpiece, it was the Argentinians that prevailed. Messi as ever was the star of the show. He scored twice as the pair played out a 3-3 draw, with the South Americans eventually triumphing on penalties. The victory has solidified the notion that Messi is now the undisputed number one, the greatest footballer of all time.
The early years
The Rosario-born superstar has single-handedly broken a plethora of records and inspired millions around the world with his magical skills and creative play. At the age of 35, Messi has an impressive net worth of approximately $400 million, making him one of the highest-earning athletes in the world.
Messi was born in Rosario, Argentina in 1987. His talent was evident from an early age, and he soon joined the youth system of the local club, Newell’s Old Boys. At the age of 13, he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency and Barcelona offered to pay for his treatment if he moved to Spain. He and his family accepted the offer, and he soon joined the Barcelona youth team.
Once at Barcelona, Messi quickly became a regular player at the U19 level, and by the 2004/05 season, he was already playing with the first team. His first season saw him become the youngest player ever to score in La Liga, against Albacete in May 2005, and he finished the season with a total of six goals.
Breaking into the first team
The following season would prove to be Messi’s breakout season. While he was still only 18 years old, he played a key role in Barcelona’s impressive title-winning performance, scoring an incredible 30 goals in 37 appearances.
Messi’s career since then has been spectacular. He gradually progressed through the youth system and made his competitive debut for Barcelona in 2004. Leo quickly established himself as a key player for the club, and by 2009 he was widely considered to be the best player in the world. He won a record six Ballon d’Or awards during his time in Catalonia, four of which came in consecutive years from 2009 to 2012.
His achievements for Barcelona are remarkable. He is the all-time leading goalscorer for the club with 672 goals in 778 appearances. Messi has won ten La Liga titles, seven Copa del Rey trophies, and four UEFA Champions League titles. He also holds a number of other records in European competitions, including the most hat-tricks and most assists.
In terms of individual awards, Messi has won the European Golden Shoe award six times, and the FIFA World Player of the Year award five times. He has also been awarded the FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, the ESPN FC Player of the Decade award, and the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year award.
Messi and Barcelona endured a heartbreaking divorce in the summer of 2021, which saw the Argentinian magician move on to Paris Saint-Germain. In the French capital, he has added two Ligue 1 trophies to his collection, but in recent years, it is on the international stage where Messi has confirmed his GOAT status.
Last summer, he led Argentina to a first Copa América crown in 28 years, before securing the FIFA World Cup for the first time since the days of Diego Maradona some 36 years ago.
Although Messi is now undoubtedly the best player of all time, his career is far from over. He has confirmed that he will continue playing for his national team, as well as continuing to feature for PSG, until the end of the season at least.