There have been many Argentine players with the mantle of ‘The Next Maradona’. Pablo Aimar, Alessandro D’Alessandro, Ariel Ortega and many others. None of them lived up to that title. Lionel Messi, arguably, has surpassed that title and the man himself. Born in Rosario, Messi’s footballing career started at Newell’s Old Boys before he was snapped up by FC Barcelona. At the Catalan club, Messi became the legend that he is today winning everything at club level and serving as the club’s talisman.
With FC Barcelona, Messi has won nine La Liga titles, six Copa del Rey’s and three UEFA Champions League titles. He is also FC Barcelona’s all-time leading goal-scorer as well as assist provider. A record that he also holds for La Liga. In the 2011-12 season, Messi scored 50 goals in La Liga, which is the highest ever in a single season. In 2012, he scored 93 goals which was the highest ever in a calendar year in the top football leagues. He has also won the European Golden Shoe five times along with the Pichichi trophy. Not to mention his stranglehold on the Ballon D’Or with Messi winning the award five times.
While his critics argue that Messi has not had international success, he has led Argentina through a fairly successful period. Messi led the team to the 2014 World Cup final and was also adjudged the tournament’s best player. He also captained the team to two successive Copa America finals appearances in 2015 and 2016, which ended up in losses to Chile.
Messi is a global star and is one of the most recognizable sportspersons in the world. His rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo has drawn comparisons to famous sports rivalries like Borg-McEnroe, Prost-Senna, Federer-Nadal and more. He is easily one of the greatest legends of the sport.