10 Things You Didn’t Know About Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi, often considered one of the greatest football players of all time, has mesmerized fans around the globe with his incredible skills and numerous records. From his early days in Argentina to his extraordinary career with FC Barcelona, Messi’s talent and devotion to the game are unparalleled. While many fans are familiar with his remarkable achievements on the field, there are some lesser-known aspects of Messi’s life that may surprise you. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about Lionel Messi.

1. He Overcame Hormone Deficiency

As a child, Messi faced a serious health issue that could have prevented him from becoming the football legend we know today. At the age of 11, he was diagnosed with Growth Hormone Deficiency, which stunted his growth. To afford the expensive treatment needed, Messi’s family was unable to cover the medical expenses, pushing FC Barcelona to sign him with the promise to pay for his hormone therapy. This act of generosity not only saved Messi’s career but also set the stage for the future legend to bloom.

Being treated for Growth Hormone Deficiency required Messi to relocate from his hometown, Rosario, to Barcelona. Leaving behind family and friends at such a young age can be daunting, but Messi’s commitment to realizing his dreams prevailed. The move to Barcelona marked the beginning of an extraordinary journey that saw him grow both as a person and a player.

2. Messi’s FIFA Ballon d’Or Record

While many footballers aspire to win the prestigious FIFA Ballon d’Or award once in their careers, Lionel Messi has shattered all expectations by winning it a record-breaking six times. Messi’s outstanding performances have earned him the title of the world’s best player for almost a decade. He secured his first Ballon d’Or in 2009, breaking the duopoly of fierce rivals Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. His reign continued throughout the years, with consecutive wins in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, and 2019.

Messi’s unmatched ability to take charge of games and make vital contributions has made him a constant contender for this prestigious award. With each new season, football fans eagerly watch to see if Messi will add another Ballon d’Or to his already incredible collection.

3. The Wheat Field Celebration

Following his remarkable performances during the 2007/2008 season, Messi celebrated in an unusual and heartwarming manner. After scoring a memorable goal against Real Zaragoza, he sprinted towards the corner flag, grabbed it, and sunk it into the ground. Unbeknownst to many, this action was Messi’s way of paying tribute to his grandmother, who had sadly passed away weeks earlier.

Messi’s grandmother played a pivotal role in his upbringing and early years. The goal celebration was his unique way of expressing his love and gratitude for the support she had given him throughout his life and revered as a symbol of his connection to his roots. It showcased Messi’s deep appreciation for his family and the profound impact they had on his journey to becoming a football superstar.

4. The Fateful Barcelona Napkin Contract

At just 13 years old, Messi signed his first contract with FC Barcelona. However, this wasn’t an ordinary contract signing; in fact, it was scribbled on a napkin! Carles Rexach, the Barcelona sporting director at the time, was completely captivated by Messi’s extraordinary talent during a trial session, and in a remarkable act of faith, he immediately wanted to secure the young prodigy. With no official papers or contracts available, Rexach jotted down the terms of the contract on a napkin, making it Messi’s first official agreement with the club.

This unconventional agreement may seem incredible now, but it showcases the immense belief and confidence Rexach had in Messi’s abilities. The napkin contract holds immense sentimental value and symbolizes the unwavering faith that Messi’s talent stirred in those who witnessed it firsthand.

5. Messi’s Ambidexterity

While Messi is renowned for his remarkable left foot, few might know that he is naturally right-footed. The insistence of his first coach, Salvador Aparicio, led him to develop his left foot as well. Aparicio recognized Messi’s potential to become truly extraordinary by being able to use both feet seamlessly. Consequently, he devoted specific training sessions to strengthen Messi’s weaker foot, ultimately cementing his ambidexterity.

This unique skillset has given Messi a significant advantage on the pitch, confounding defenders who are unsure which foot he will use to dribble or shoot. The ability to use both feet with equal precision has undoubtedly contributed to Messi’s unprecedented success as an attacking force.

6. The Messi-to-Charity Connection

Lionel Messi has always placed great importance on giving back to society, and his charitable efforts extend far beyond the football pitch. In 2007, he established the Leo Messi Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on improving education and healthcare access for vulnerable children. Through his foundation, Messi has funded numerous projects, including the construction of health centers, schools, and sporting facilities in his hometown, Rosario.

Moreover, Messi actively collaborates with renowned organizations like UNICEF and supports various charity initiatives. His genuine desire to make a positive impact across the globe demonstrates not only his immense talent as a footballer but also his remarkable qualities as a compassionate and socially responsible human being.

7. Messi: A Bookworm at Heart

Despite conquering the football world, Messi is an avid reader who finds solace in books. He particularly enjoys delving into biographies, especially those of renowned historical figures and legendary athletes. Messi finds inspiration in the stories of resilience and determination portrayed in these books, which continue to fuel his dedication to excellence.

Reading provides Messi with an escape from the pressures of his illustrious career, allowing him to broaden his horizons and gain valuable insights from various perspectives. It exemplifies his intellectual curiosity and a desire to constantly evolve, both on and off the pitch.

8. Messi’s Love for the Argentine National Anthem

Lionel Messi has always displayed intense patriotism, heartfully singing the Argentine national anthem before each international match. This emotional display illustrates Messi’s deep bond with his country and his desire to make all Argentinians proud.

The national anthem holds immense significance for Messi and represents a powerful reminder of his roots, acting as a driving force behind his performances for the national team. With unwavering loyalty, Messi continues to strive to bring international glory to Argentina while carrying the hopes and dreams of a nation.

9. Messi’s Support for Medical Research

Off the field, Messi has shown remarkable support for advancements in medical research. In 2007, when his Barcelona teammate, Eric Abidal, was diagnosed with liver cancer, Messi stood by his side throughout his challenging treatment journey. He offered his full support and even promised to shave his head as a sign of solidarity when Abidal underwent surgery.

Messi’s gesture revealed his remarkable compassion and profound care for those close to him. His empathy extends beyond the football field and demonstrates his commitment to supporting others through their most difficult times.

10. The Record-Breaking Charity Auction

In June 2021, Messi made global headlines once again, but this time for something off the pitch. To raise funds for his foundation, he put a pair of his signed boots up for auction. What was expected to fetch a significant sum turned into an astonishing record-breaking charity auction, with the boots selling for an astounding 2 million euros.

This extraordinary act of philanthropy highlights Messi’s immense popularity and the adulation fans have for him worldwide. His boots will forever hold a special place in the history of charitable contributions, serving as a testament to the remarkable impact that one individual, even an athlete, can have on making the world a better place.

Being a global icon, Lionel Messi’s life is a fascinating tapestry of inspiring tales, incredible records, and immense generosity. Exploring the lesser-known aspects of his journey reveals a man with unyielding determination, compassion, and a genuine desire to impact the lives of others. As Messi continues to create magic on the football pitch, his legacy as an exceptional athlete and a remarkable individual remains firmly etched in history.

Useful links:
FC Barcelona Official Website
Leo Messi Official Website
UNICEF Official Website