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Argentina native Lionel Messi has established records for goals scored and won individual awards en route to worldwide recognition as the best player in soccer.
Mia Hamm - Mini Biography (2:32)
Argentinian soccer player Lionel Messi moved to Spain at the age of 13. Messi became a star in his new country and in 2012 set a record for most goals in a calendar year and was named FIFA's "Player of the Year" a record fourth time.
Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo plays forward for Real Madrid. He's considered one of the greatest and highest paid soccer players of all time.
A phenom from the moment he first kicked a soccer ball, David Beckham began playing for Manchester United at age 18. In addition to his status as a soccer star, he and his wife Victoria Beckham are a worldwide power couple.
Mia Hamm is largely considered the best female soccer player in history. She played with the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team for 17 years, building one of the biggest fan bases of any American athlete.
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Born on June 24, 1987, in Rosario, Argentina, soccer player Lionel Messi moved to Spain at the age of 13, after the FC Barcelona club agreed to pay for hormone-deficiency treatments. Messi became a star in his new country, scoring at will while leading his club to championships. In 2012, he set a record for most goals in a calendar year, and afterward was named FIFA's "Player of the Year" a record fourth time.
“Every time I start a year, I start with the objective of trying to achieve everything, without comparing it to how I've done in other seasons.”
“Whether it's a friendly match, or for points, or a final, or any game — I play the same. I'm always trying to be my best, first for my team, for myself, for the fans, and to try and win.”
“I am competitive and I feel bad when we lose. You can see it in me when we've lost. I'm in a bad way. I don't like to talk to anyone.”
“I made sacrifices by leaving Argentina, leaving my family to start a new life. I changed my friends, my people. Everything. But everything I did, I did for football, to achieve my dream.”
“No one plays with as much joy as Messi does. He plays like a child enjoying the pasture, playing for the pleasure of playing, not the duty of winning.”
“I have fun like a child in the street. When the day comes when I’m not enjoying it, I will leave football.”
“I've never stopped being Argentine, and I've never wanted to. I feel very proud of being Argentine, even though I left there. I've been clear about this since I was very young, and I never wanted to change.”
“A player like him, 100% fit or not, will always make the difference. Messi is the best player in the world, simple as that.”
a“Something deep in my character allows me to take the hits and get on with trying to win. I've always had this ability to get up and get on with it."
“I wasn’t teased as a child for my size. In fact I think I had more affection because I was small.”
“I am lucky, I live by my passion and there are a lot of people who work, doing what they don't like and are badly paid for that.”
Lionel Messi was born Luis Lionel Andres Messi on June 24, 1987, in Rosario, Argentina. As a young boy, he tagged along when his two older brothers played soccer with their friends, unintimidated by the bigger boys. At the age of 8, he was recruited to join the youth system of Newell's Old Boys, a Rosario-based club. Recognizably smaller than most of the kids in his age group, Messi was eventually diagnosed by doctors as suffering from a hormone deficiency that restricted his growth.
Messi's parents, Jorge and Ceclia, decided on a regimen of nightly growth-hormone injections for their son, though it soon proved impossible to pay several hundred dollars per month for the medication. So, at the age of 13, when Messi was offered the chance to train at soccer powerhouse FC Barcelona's youth academy, La Masia, and have his medical bills covered by the team, Messi's family picked up and moved across the Atlantic to make a new home in Spain.
Although he was often homesick in his new country, Messi moved quickly through the junior system ranks, and by the age of 16, he had made his first appearance for Barcelona. Messi put himself in the record books on May 1, 2005, as the youngest player to ever score a goal for the franchise. That same year, he led Argentina to the title in the under-20 World Cup, scoring on a pair of penalty kicks to propel the team over Nigeria.
Messi eventually grew to 5 feet and 7 inches, and with his short stature, speed and relentless attacking style, he drew comparisons to another famous Argentinean footballer: Diego Maradona. Messi steered Barcelona to a wealth of success, most notably in 2009, when the left-footer's team captured the Champions League, La Liga, and Spanish Super Cup titles. That same year, after two consecutive runner-up finishes, he took home his first FIFA "World Player of the Year" honor/Ballon d'Or award.
Even the great Maradona gushed about his fellow countryman. "I see him as very similar to me," the retired player told the BBC. "He's a leader and is offering lessons in beautiful football. He has something different to any other player in the world."
Amazingly, the diminutive soccer wizard continued to improve, discovering new ways to elude defenders while leading Barcelona to La Liga and Spanish Super Cup championships in 2010 and 2011, as well as the '11 Champions League title.
Messi embarked on an all-out assault on the record books in 2012. He became the first player to score five goals in a Champions League match in early March, and a few weeks later he surpassed Cesar Rodriguez's club-record 232 goals to become Barcelona's all-time leading scorer.
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