Lionel Messi is one of the most dominant athletes in sports.
He has taken over the soccer world and has been recognised as the best player four years in a row.
Argentinian by birth, he has spent half his life in Spain playing for the world famous FC Barcelona.
'Leo' was born in Rosario, Argentina and is the son of Jorge Horacio Messi, a factory worker, and Celia María Cuccittini, a part-time cleaner.
His father is of Italian descent. His ancestors immigrated to Argentina in the late 19th century.
He has two older brothers, Rodrigo and Matias, and a sister, Maria Sol.
He played on a team coached by his father and was soon recruited to join the Newell's Old Boys soccer club.
However, he was noticeably smaller than the other boys his age and was eventually diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency.
His parents put him on a regiment of growth hormone injections, but it was very expensive and his parents could not afford to continue treatment.
After moving quickly through Barcelona's C and B teams, Messi made his unofficial debut with the top team during a friendly match at the age of 16.
Messi made his official debut when he was 17, and at the age of 17 years, 10 months and seven days, he scored his first goal, becoming the youngest to ever score a goal for Barcelona (the record was recently broken by Bojan).
Messi was granted Spanish citizenship in 2005, and many people thought he might play for Spain in the World Cup.
However, he still has a very strong connection with his home country, and decided to play for Argentina's team in the World Cup.
He currently maintains dual citizenship to both Spain and Argentina.
Messi scored 73 goals during his 2012 European club season, breaking a 39-year-old record.
He is also the only player to ever score five goals in a single Champions League match.
He is a natural lefty, but can score with either foot.
In February he signed a contract extension for $21.2 million with Barcelona through 2018.
He earns millions more in endorsements from Adidas and other companies.
He recently starred in a Turkish Airlines commercial with Kobe Bryant.
In 2007 he created the Fundacion Leo Messi, which has a mission to improve access to education and health care for children.
He has also donated to hospitals, both to improve facilities and to better train doctors.
He is also a UNICEF ambassador.
Messi has been dating Antonella Rouccuzzo for years. Rouccuzzo and Messi met as young children in Argentina.
The tradition in Argentina is to wear a silver ring when you are engaged, and switch to a gold ring once you have been wed, so it looks like Messi and Rouccuzzo may be planning to tie the knot soon.
Messi has scored more than 300 goals for Barcelona. Here's a beauty from a recent game versus AC Milan
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