Lionel Andrés "Leo" Messi Cuccittini, born 24 June 1987 is an Argentine footballer who plays as a forward for La Liga club FC Barcelona and the Argentina national team. He serves as the captain of his country's national football team. By the age of 21, Messi had received Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year nominations. The following year, in 2009, he won his first Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year awards. He followed this up by winning the inaugural FIFA Ballon d'Or in 2010, and then again in 2011 & 2012. He also won the 2010–11 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award. At the age of 24, Messi became Barcelona's all-time top scorer in all official club competitions. At age 25, Messi became the youngest player to score 200 La Liga goals.
Widely recognised as the best player in the world and rated by many commentators, coaches, experts and players as the greatest footballer of all time, Messi is the first football player in history to win four FIFA/Ballon d'Or – all of which he won consecutively – as well as the first to win three European Golden Shoe awards. Messi has won six La Ligas, two Copas del Rey, five Supercopas de España, three UEFA Champions Leagues, two Super Cups and two Club World Cups. In March 2012, Messi made Champions League history by becoming the first player to score five goals in one match. He also matched José Altafini's record of 14 goals in a single Champions League season. Messi became the first player to top-score in four successive Champions League campaigns. Messi set the European record for most goals scored in a season during the 2011–12 season, with 73 goals. In the same season, he set the current goalscoring record in a single La Liga season, scoring 50 goals. On 16 February 2013, Messi scored his 300th Barcelona goal. On 30 March 2013, Messi scored in his 19th consecutive La Liga game, becoming the first footballer in history to net in consecutive matches against every team in a professional football league. Messi later extended his record scoring streak to 21 consecutive league matches. The run ultimately came to a halt in a match against Atlético Madrid in which he had to leave play due to a hamstring injury.
Messi helped Argentina win the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup, finishing as both the best player and the top scorer (with 6 goals). In 2006, he became the youngest Argentine to play in the FIFA World Cup and he won a runners-up medal at the Copa América tournament the following year, in which he was elected young player of the tournament. In 2008, he won his first international honour, an Olympic Gold Medal, with the Argentina Olympic football team. SportsPro has rated Lionel Messi as the second-most marketable athlete in the world. His playing style and stature have drawn comparisons to compatriot Diego Maradona, who himself declared Messi his "successor".