There are many good soccer players in the world, but many fans feel that only one is the greatest: Lionel “Leo” Messi. He hasn’t won a World Cup, but he has won just about everything else. Messi, 24, plays for the Barcelona club team, and he is the captain of his home country Argentina’s team.
This year, Messi has a chance to win his third Ballon d’Or (“golden ball”) in a row. That award is given to the European footballer of the year. He also surpassed 200 career goals for Barcelona this year. He was able to accomplish that feat in only 286 games.
Over time, Messi has helped his team win five La Liga titles and three Champions League titles. He usually plays as a striker. Strikers are the players on a soccer team positioned closest to the opposing team’s goal. They are most responsible for scoring goals.
Messi started playing football when he was very young. In the 2004–05 season, he broke his team record for the youngest footballer to score a league goal.
By the 2006–07 season, Messi had become a first-team regular. He scored 14 goals in 26 league games. Next year was even more impressive. He scored 38 goals. But he wasn’t through. The following season, 2009–10, he logged 47 goals in all competitions, tying the record total that Ronaldo had previously set for Barcelona. He bested his own mark again the following year, with 53 goals in all competitions.
For bringing excitement to fans around the world, and showing what can be accomplished when skill is combined with hard work, Lionel Messi is a nominee for TFK's 2011 Person of the Year.