|Full name||Lionel Andrés Messi|
|Date of birth||June 24, 1987 (1987-06-24)|
|Place of birth||Rosario, Argentina|
|Height||1.69 m (5 ft 6+1?2 in)|
|Nickname||Leo, Lio, Pulga|
|Position||Supporting striker / Attacking Midfielder / Striker|
Lionel Andrés Messi (born 24 June 1987 in Rosario) is an Argentine international football player who currently plays for FC Barcelona in the Primera División, and appears on Argentina's national team. Often touted in the media as New Maradona, Messi has been publicly named as his "successor" by Diego Maradona himself.
Lionel Messi was born in Santa Fe Province on 24 June 1987. At the age of five, he started playing football for Grandoli, a club coached by his father. In 1995, Messi switched to Newell's Old Boys. At the age of 11, he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. River Plate showed interest in Messi's progress, but did not have enough money to pay for the treatment of the illness, which cost over £500 a month. As Argentina's economy was collapsing, Carles Rexach, then sporting director of FC Barcelona, was made aware of Messi's talent, and Barcelona signed him after watching him play, offering to pay for the medical bills if he was willing to move to start a new life in Spain. His family moved with the young player to Europe and he starred in the club’s youth teams.
He soon found himself starting for the Barcelona B team, averaging more than a goal per game, by scoring 35 goals in 30 matches.
In October 2004, Messi made his official début for the first team against RCD Espanyol, becoming the third-youngest player ever to play for FC Barcelona. When he scored his first senior goal for the club against Albacete Balompié on May 1, 2005, Messi was 17 years, 10 months and 7 days old, becoming the youngest to ever score in a La Liga game for FC Barcelona.
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