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20 moments that defined Messi’s career

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He’s one of the world’s greatest ever Players, who appeared destined to be a one-club man. But now Lionel Messi’s relationship with Barcelona looks to be irreparably fractured.  Sport looks at 20 defining moments in the career of the football superstar, who mesmerized, broke records and transcended his sport 2004

OCTOBER, 2004

La Liga debut

At just 17 years, three months, and 22

days old, Lionel Messi makes his

official league debut for Barcelona,

coming on as a substitute late in the

game. against Espanyol. At the time,

he becomes the youngest player to

represent the club in an official game

after joining the club’s famed La

Masia academy in 2000, moving from

Argentine club Newell’s Old Boys as a

13-year-old.

2005

AUGUST, 2005

International debut

Messi makes his debut for Argentina

in a friendly against Hungary at the

age of 18, coming on in the 63rd

minute but receives a red card and is

sent off just two minutes later for a

perceived elbow against defender

Vilmos Vanczak

.

DECEMBER, 2005

Golden Boy

There’s no doubt Barcelona has

something special on its hands and

the world is starting to take notice as

well when he’s named the Golden Boy

— the award for the best young player

in Europe.

2006

MARCH, 2006

First international goal

After a rocky start to his international

career, Messi scores his first goal for

Argentina with a signature run and

curled left-foot effort in a friendly

defeat to Croatia.

JUNE, 2006

World Cup debut

Coming on in the 74th minute against

Serbia and Montenegro, Messi

becomes the youngest-ever player to

represent Argentina at the World Cup.

He scores the final goal in a 6-0 win,

becoming the youngest scorer at the

tournament and the sixth-youngest

goalscorer in tournament’s history.

However, host Germany knocks

Argentina out of the tournament in the

quarterfinals.

2007

MARCH, 2007

First club hat-trick

Messi is gaining a reputation for

being one of the hottest teenagers in

world football by now and his three

goals against Real Madrid in 2007

turned him into a household name.

It’s his first hat-trick for the club and

certainly not his last.

APRIL, 2007

His greatest goal?

Few goals in the history of football

can compare to this one. Messi

slaloms his way past multiple Getafe

defenders to score perhaps the

greatest goal of his career. It

strangely mirrors a goal scored by

compatriot Diego Maradona against

England in the 1986 World Cup in

Mexico.

2008

AUGUST, 2008

Olympic gold

Barcelona initially bans Messi from

taking part in the tournament before

new club coach Pep Guardiola steps

in to allow his participation. Lining up

in an all-star Argentina side, featuring

fellow youngsters Sergio Aguero and

Angel di Maria, Argentina wins every

match on their way to securing the

gold medal at the Beijing Olympics.

2009

MAY, 2009

Champions League success

Messi had already won the

Champions League in 2006 when

making his way into the first team but

he is the star man in 2009. He

finishes the campaign as the

tournament’s top scorer and nets in

the final against Manchester United in

a 2-0 win at Rome’s Olympic

Stadium. He’s won a career total of

four European titles to date.

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