50 Players to watch at the World Cup - No 2 Lionel Messi

10 June 2010 08:40

In our penultimate instalment of the 50 players to watch at the World Cup feature, football.co.uk takes a closer look at Argentine superstar Lionel Messi.

- 50 Players to watch at the World Cup: The complete list

Name: Lionel Andres Messi

Age: 22

Club: Barcelona

Country: Argentina

International caps: 44

International goals: 13

- World Cup mini-site

Born in Rosario, Argentina in 1987, Lionel began playing for his father's local side Grandoli at the age of just five.

After three years with Grandoli he moved to Newell's Old Boys where he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency.

Barcelona offered him a trial in 2000, offering to pay the medical bills for his hormone treatment if he was successful.

After impressing club officials, Barca signed Messi for their prolific youth system.

He went on to make his senior debut at the age of 16 in a friendly match against Porto, before making his first league appearance less than a year later.

- World Cup fixtures

During his six years in the first-team, Messi has bagged 88 goals from just 144 games - 47 of those coming last season as Barca retained the La Liga title.

He has so far won four La Liga titles, one Spanish Cup, two Champions League titles and the FIFA Club World Cup during his time in Spain.

He has also earned a number of individual accolades including the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year award.

Lionel made his senior international debut in 2005 and has scored 13 goals in 44 appearances.

A bit-part player at the 2006 World Cup, Messi looks set for a starring role in South Africa if he can reproduce his dazzling club form on the international stage.

- World Cup Fantasy Football

Source: DSG