Here’s a look at the life of soccer player Lionel “Leo” Messi, who plays for the Argentina national team and Paris Saint-Germain.
Birth date: June 24, 1987
Place of birth: Rosario, Argentina
Birth Name: Lionel Andres Messi
Father: Jorge Messi, factory worker
Mother: Messi’s Celia Cuccittini
Wedding: Antonela Roccuzzo (since June 30, 2017)
Children: ciro, Mateo and Thiago
As a young boy, Messi was diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency. At 13 he signed with Futbol Club Barcelona and moved to Spain. As part of the deal, FC Barcelona agreed to pay for Messi’s hormone treatments.
All-time top scorer of FC Barcelona and the Spanish football league La Liga.
Ballon d’Or or Footballer of the Year winner, a record seven times: a record for four consecutive years (2009-2012) and again for 2015, 2019 and 2021.
Won the European Golden Boot six times: 2009-10, 2011-12, 2012-13, 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19.
1995-2000 – Plays for local club side Newell’s Old Boys in Rosario, Argentina.
2000-2003 – Signs for FC Barcelona and works his way up through Barca’s youth teams.
Nov 16, 2003 – Makes his team debut as a substitute in a friendly against FC Porto.
October 16, 2004 – Makes his official Barcelona debut against Espanyol. Barca wins 1-0.
2007 – Establishes the Leo Messi Foundation, which works to improve children’s access to education and health care.
Aug 2008 – Leads the Argentina soccer team to a gold medal at the Beijing Summer Olympics.
March 11, 2010 – Messi is named UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
Season 2011-2012 – Set the all-time record for most goals scored in a single season for a major European football league with 73 goals.
June 2013 – Prosecutors in Barcelona are returning tax fraud charges against Messi and his father for the period between 2007 and 2009. The lawsuit alleges that Messi and his father tried to manage the player’s lucrative image rights revenue through front companies in order to offset their Spanish tax bills set up lower abroad. Messi denies all allegations of wrongdoing.
June 25, 2013 – Prosecutors in Barcelona tell CNN that Messi paid 10 million euros ($13 million) in taxes to cover the 2010-2011 tax period, but efforts to prosecute him for alleged tax fraud from 2007-2009 are ongoing on.
Aug 14, 2013 – Messi and his father Jorge Messi are making a €5 million ($6.6 million) “redress payment” to Spanish authorities for alleged tax fraud between 2007 and 2009.
09/27/2013 – Messi and his father are testifying at a preliminary hearing in a Barcelona court over allegations that they defrauded the Spanish tax authorities of more than $5 million.
March 16, 2014 – Scores a hat-trick (three goals in one game) and becomes Barcelona’s all-time top scorer with 371 goals, eclipsing Paulino Alcantara’s record of 369 goals.
May 2014 – Signs a new contract with FC Barcelona for a reported annual net of 20 million euros ($27 million).
June 2014 – A Spanish prosecutor is asking the judge to drop tax fraud charges against Messi but not against his father.
July 13, 2014 – Messi wins the Golden Ball award for the best player of the World Cup tournament.
July 28, 2014 – A judge rules that the tax fraud case against Messi and his father will continue, despite a request by Spanish prosecutors in June to drop the charges against Messi.
November 22, 2014 – Messi scores a hat-trick to become the all-time top scorer in the Spanish league with 253 goals, beating Telmo Zarra’s previous record of 251 goals.
October 8, 2015 – A Spanish court rules that Messi and his father are on trial for tax fraud.
May 31, 2016 – For Messi and his father, the tax fraud process begins.
June 27, 2016 – He says he is likely to retire from international football after Argentina lost the Copa America final to Chile on penalties.
July 6, 2016 – A court in Barcelona has fined Messi €2m and sentenced him to 21 months in prison for tax evasion. Spanish courts reduced Messi’s prison sentence to an additional fine of 252,000 euros ($287,000) in July 2017.
Aug 12, 2016 – Messi announces he will play for Argentina again after declaring in June that he was retiring from international football.
July 5, 2017 – Barcelona and Messi announce a contract extension that will keep Messi at Barca until June 30, 2021 and is said to be worth €565,000 ($645,000) a week.
January 13, 2019 – He scores his 400th goal in the Spanish league in his 435th game, extending his record as the all-time top scorer in La Liga. Messi is the first player to score 400 goals in one of Europe’s ‘Big Five’ leagues.
August 2, 2019 – Messi is banned from all competitions for three months and fined $50,000 by the CONMEBOL disciplinary court. The punishment comes after Messi accused South American football’s governing body of corruption, suggesting the 2019 Copa America was rigged in favor of hosts Brazil.
August 5, 2021 – Messi is leaving Barcelona, according to a club statement.
08/10/2021 – French club Paris Saint-Germain announce the signing of Messi on a two-year contract with an option to extend for a third year.
January 2, 2022 – In a statement, Paris Saint-Germain announce that Messi is one of four players at the French club to have tested positive for Covid-19. The other three players are Juan Bernat, Sergio Rico and Nathan Bitumazala.
May 30, 2022 – Discusses his struggle to recover from Covid-19 after testing positive in January. He missed three games: two in Ligue 1 and one in the French Cup. “It left me with repercussions. It left lingering effects in my lungs. I came back and went about a month and a half without even being able to walk because my lungs were getting compromised.”
December 18, 2022 – Argentina defeats France and wins the World Cup. Messi, playing in his fifth and final World Cup, scores twice. Later, Messi wins his second Golden Ball award.