Biographies of female footballers

Biographies of female footballers

Ranking the 10 Greatest Female Soccer Players in History

Last month in a friendly match against South Korea, Abby Wambach scored four first-half goals as the United States Women’s National Soccer Team cruised to a 5-0 victory in Harrison, New Jersey.

Over the course of the opening 45 minutes Wambach, who had come into the encounter just two goals shy of all-time goalscoring leader Mia Hamm, not only caught up to the women’s soccer icon, but passed her as well, setting a new mark of 160 goals by the time she was replaced by Christen Press in the 58th minute.

Given the accomplishment, Wambach can be considered a “mover” in this edition of our 10 Greatest Female Soccer Players ranking—both solidifying her legacy as a top-10 player and making a case for inclusion in the rarified air of the top five.

But it’s an altogether elite group of athletes, and omission from this list should not in any way detract from a player’s achievements. It’s just, quite simply, a very, very good group.

To that end, readers may think of one or two names they might have included in the ranking. If so, they can be added in the comments section below.

In any event, the following 10 slides should be viewed as a celebration of women’s soccer, so let’s begin with the 10th-greatest player in its history.


Origins in the 1980s Edit

The passing of Title IX in 1972, which outlawed gender-based discrimination for federally-funded education programs, spurred the creation of college soccer teams across the United States at a time when women's soccer was rising in popularity internationally. [7] The U.S. Soccer Federation tasked coach Mike Ryan to select a roster of college players to participate in the 1985 Mundialito tournament in Italy, its first foray into women's international soccer. [8] The team played its first match on August 18, 1985, losing 1–0 to Italy, and finished the tournament in fourth place after failing to win its remaining matches against Denmark and England. [9] [10]

Despite the tournament loss, the first match against Italy is where the United States’ famous “Oosa Oosa Oosa Ah!” chant was born. During the match, the style of play and athleticism of the United States ultimately won over the Italian fans. To the team's surprise, the Italians began cheering for the US, which they pronounced as “oosa.” Such surprising support from the Italians impressed the United States so much that the team decided to adopt the Italians' endearing mispronunciation as its new chant that it would use to conclude its pre-game huddles. From then on, the United States has concluded each pre-game huddle with the same chant, “Oosa Oosa Oosa Ah!” as a call back to where it all began in 1985 that honors the legacy of those who came before. [11]

University of North Carolina coach Anson Dorrance was hired as the team's first full-time manager in 1986 with the goal of fielding a competitive women's team at the next Mundialito and at future tournaments. [10] In their first Mundialito under Dorrance, the United States defeated China, Brazil, and Japan before finishing as runners-up to Italy. [12] Dorrance gave national team appearances to teenage players, including future stars Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, and Kristine Lilly, instead of the college players preferred by the federation. [13] The United States played in the 1988 FIFA Women's Invitation Tournament in China, a FIFA-sanctioned competition to test the feasibility of a regular women's championship, and lost in the quarterfinals to eventual champions Norway. [10]

1990s Edit

Following the 1988 tournament, FIFA announced plans for a new women's tournament, named the 1st FIFA World Championship for Women's Football for the M&M's Cup until it was retroactively given the "World Cup" name. The United States qualified for the tournament by winning the inaugural CONCACAF Women's Championship, hosted by Haiti in April 1991, outscoring their opponents 49–0 for the sole CONCACAF berth in the tournament. [10] [14] The team played several exhibition matches abroad against European opponents to prepare for the world championship, while its players quit their regular jobs to train full-time with meager compensation. [15] [16] Dorrance utilized a 4–3–3 formation that was spearheaded by the "Triple-Edged Sword" of forward Michelle Akers-Stahl and wingers Carin Jennings and April Heinrichs. [17]

At the Women's World Cup, the United States won all three of its group stage matches and outscored its opponents 11–2. In the opening match against Sweden, the U.S. took a 3–0 lead early in the second half, but conceded two goals to end the match with a narrower 3–2 victory. The U.S. proceeded to win 5–0 in its second match against Brazil and 3–0 in its third match against Japan in the following days, clinching first place in the group and a quarterfinal berth. [18] The United States proceeded with a 7–0 victory in the quarterfinals over Chinese Taipei, fueled by a five-goal performance by Akers-Stahl in the first fifty minutes of the match. [18]

In the semifinals against Germany, Carin Jennings scored a hat-trick in the first half as the team clinched a place in the final with a 5–2 victory. [19] The team's lopsided victories in the earlier rounds had brought attention from American media outlets, but the final match was not televised live in the U.S. [18] The United States won the inaugural Women's World Cup title by defeating Norway 2–1 in the final, played in front of 65,000 spectators at Tianhe Stadium in Guangzhou, as Akers-Stahl scored twice to create and restore a lead for the Americans. [20] Akers-Stahl finished as the top goalscorer at the tournament, with ten goals, and Carin Jennings was awarded the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player. [21]

Despite their Women's World Cup victory, the U.S. team remained in relative obscurity and received a small welcome from several U.S. Soccer Federation officials upon arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. [22] The team were given fewer resources and little attention from the federation as they focused on improving the men's national team in preparation for the 1994 men's World Cup that would be hosted in the United States. [23] The women's team was placed on hiatus after the tournament, only playing twice in 1992, but returned the following year to play in several tournaments hosted in Cyprus, Canada, and the United States, including a second CONCACAF Championship title. The program was still supported better than those of the former Soviet Union, where football was considered a "men's game". [24] [23] [25]

The United States played in several friendly tournaments to prepare for the 1995 FIFA Women's World Cup and its qualification campaign. The first was the inaugural staging of the Algarve Cup in Portugal, which saw the team win its two group stage matches but lose 1–0 to Norway in the final. It followed by a victory in the Chiquita Cup, an exhibition tournament hosted in August on the U.S. East Coast against Germany, China, and Norway. [26] [27] Dorrance resigned from his position as head coach in early August and was replaced by his assistant, Tony DiCicco, a former professional goalkeeper who played in the American Soccer League. [23] [28] DiCicco led the United States to a berth in the Women's World Cup by winning the 1994 CONCACAF Championship, where the team scored 36 goals and conceded only one. [26]

In February 1995, the U.S. women's program opened a permanent training and treatment facility in Sanford, Florida, and began a series of warm-up friendlies that were paid for by American company Nike. [29] The team topped their group in the Women's World Cup, despite a 3–3 tie with China in the opening match and losing goalkeeper Brianna Scurry to a red card in their second match. The United States proceeded to beat Japan 4–0 in the quarterfinals, but lost 1–0 to eventual champions Norway in the semifinals. The team finished in third place, winning 2–0 in its consolation match against China.

The team won the gold medal in the inaugural Olympic women's soccer tournament in the 1996 Summer Olympics, defeating China 2–1 in the final before a crowd of 76,481 fans. [30] Julie Foudy, Kristine Lilly, and the rest of the 1999 team started a revolution towards women's team sports in America. An influential victory came in the 1999 World Cup, when they defeated China 5–4 in a penalty shoot-out following a 0–0 draw after extended time. [31] With this win they emerged onto the world stage and brought significant media attention to women's soccer and athletics. On July 10, 1999, over 90,000 people (the largest ever for a women's sporting event and one of the largest attendances in the world for a tournament game final) filled the Rose Bowl to watch the United States play China in the Final. After a back and forth game, the score was tied 0–0 at full-time, and remained so after extra time, leading to a penalty kick shootout. With Briana Scurry's save of China's third kick, the score was 4–4 with only Brandi Chastain left to shoot. She scored and won the game for the United States. Chastain dropped to her knees and whipped off her shirt, celebrating in her sports bra, which later made the cover of Sports Illustrated and the front pages of newspapers around the country and world. [32] This win influenced many girls to want to play on a soccer team. [33]

2000s Edit

In the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup, the U.S. defeated Norway 1–0 in the quarterfinals but lost 0–3 to Germany in the semifinals. The team then defeated Canada 3–1 to claim third place. [34] Abby Wambach was the team's top scorer with three goals, while Joy Fawcett and Shannon Boxx made the tournament's all-star team. In the 2004 Olympics, the last major international tournament for Hamm and Foudy, the U.S. earned the gold medal, winning 2–1 over Brazil in the final on an extra time goal by Wambach. [35]

At the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup, the U.S. defeated England 3–0 in the quarterfinals but then suffered its most lopsided loss in team history when it lost to Brazil 0–4 in the semifinals. [36] The U.S. recovered to defeat Norway to take third place. [37] Abby Wambach was the team's leading scorer with 6 goals, and Kristine Lilly was the only American named to the tournament's all-star team.

The team won another gold medal in the 2008 Olympics, [38] but interest in the Women's National Team had diminished since their performance in the 1999 World Cup. However, the second women's professional league was created in March 2009, Women's Professional Soccer.

2010s Edit

In the quarterfinal of the 2011 Women's World Cup in Germany, the U.S. defeated Brazil 5–3 on penalty kicks. Abby Wambach's goal in the 122nd minute to tie the game 2–2 has been voted the greatest goal in U.S. soccer history and the greatest goal in Women's World Cup history. [39] [40] The U.S. then beat France 3–1 in the semifinal, but lost to Japan 3–1 on penalty kicks in the Final after drawing 1–1 in regulation and 2–2 in overtime. Hope Solo was named the tournament's best goalkeeper and Abby Wambach won the silver ball as the tournament's second-best player.

In the 2012 Summer Olympics, the U.S. won the gold medal for the fourth time in five Olympics by defeating Japan 2–1 in front of 80,203 fans at Wembley Stadium, a record for a women's soccer game at the Olympics. [41] The United States advanced to face Japan for the gold medal by winning the semifinal against Canada, a 4–3 victory at the end of extra time. [42] The 2012 London Olympics marked the first time the USWNT won every game en route to the gold medal and set an Olympic women's team record of 16 goals scored. [42]

The National Women's Soccer League started in 2013, and provided competitive games as well as opportunities to players on the fringes of the squad. [43] [44] The U.S. had a 43-game unbeaten streak that spanned two years – the streak began with a 4–0 win over Sweden in the 2012 Algarve Cup, and came to an end after a 1–0 loss against Sweden in the 2014 Algarve Cup. [45] [46]

The U.S. defeated Japan 5–2 in the final of the 2015 World Cup, becoming the first team in history to win three Women's World Cup titles. In the 16th minute, Carli Lloyd achieved the fastest hat-trick from kick-off in World Cup history, and Abby Wambach was greeted with a standing ovation for her last World Cup match. [47] Following their 2015 World Cup win, the team was honored with a ticker tape parade in New York City, the first for a women's sports team, and honored by President Barack Obama at the White House. [48] On December 16, 2015, however, a 0–1 loss to China in Wambach's last game meant the team's first home loss since 2004, ending their 104-game home unbeaten streak. [49]

In the 2016 Summer Olympics, the U.S. drew against Sweden in the quarterfinal in the following penalty kick phase, Sweden won the game 4–3. The loss marked the first time that the USWNT did not advance to the gold medal game of the Olympics, and the first time that the USWNT failed to advance to the semifinal round of a major tournament. [50]

After the defeat in the 2016 Olympics, the USWNT underwent a year of experimentation which saw them losing three home games. If not for a comeback win against Brazil, the USWNT was on the brink of losing four home games in one year, a low never before seen by the USWNT. 2017 saw the USWNT play 12 games against teams ranked in the top-15 in the world. [51]

Throughout 2018, the U.S. would pick up two major tournament wins, winning both the SheBelieves Cup [52] and the Tournament of Nations. [53] The team would enter qualifying for the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup on a 21-game unbeaten streak and dominated the competition, winning all five of its games and the tournament whilst qualifying for the World Cup as well as scoring 18 goals and conceding none. [54] On November 8, 2018, the U.S. earned their 500th victory in team history after a 1–0 victory over Portugal. [55] The start of 2019 saw the U.S. lose an away game to France, 3–1, marking the end of a 28-game unbeaten streak and their first loss since a 1–0 defeat to Australia in July 2017. [56]

The USWNT started off their 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup campaign with a 13–0 victory against Thailand, setting a new Women's World Cup goal record. Alex Morgan equaled Michelle Akers' record of scoring five goals in a single World Cup match, while four of her teammates scored their first World Cup goals in their debut at the tournament. [57] The U.S. would win its next match against Chile 3–0 [58] before concluding the group stage with a win of 2–0 over Sweden. [59] The team emerged as the winners of Group F and would go on to face Spain in the Round of 16, whom they would defeat 2–1 thanks to a pair of Megan Rapinoe penalties. [60] The team would achieve identical results in their next two games. With 2–1 victories over France [61] and then England [62] seeing them advance to a record third straight World Cup final, they played against the Netherlands for the title. They beat the Netherlands 2–0 in the final on July 7, 2019, becoming the first team in history to win four Women's World Cup titles.

On July 30, 2019, Jill Ellis announced that she would step down as head coach following the conclusion of the team's post-World Cup victory tour on October 6, 2019. [63]

Vlatko Andonovski was hired as head coach of the USWNT in October 2019, replacing Ellis. [64]

2020s Edit

The USWNT began the new decade by winning both the 2020 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying tournament (which qualified the team for the 2020 Summer Olympics) and the 2020 SheBelieves Cup titles. [65] [66] [67]

In early March 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the USSF cancelled previously scheduled USWNT friendlies against Australia and Brazil. [68] Later that same month, it was announced by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government that the 2020 Summer Olympics were to be postponed until July 2021. [69] They later made a comeback on November 27, 2020, where they took on the Netherlands in a friendly match. Rose Lavelle and Kristie Mewis scored, the team winning the game 2–0.

Media coverage Edit

U.S. television coverage for the five Women's World Cups from 1995 to 2011 was provided by ESPN/ABC and Univision, [70] [71] while coverage rights for the three Women's World Cups from 2015 to 2023 were awarded to Fox Sports and Telemundo. [72] [73] In May 2014 a deal was signed to split TV coverage of other USWNT games between ESPN, Fox Sports, and Univision through the end of 2022. [74] The USWNT games in the 2014 CONCACAF Women's Championship and the 2015 Algarve Cup were broadcast by Fox Sports. [75] [76] NBC will broadcast the Olympic tournament through 2032. [77]

The 1999 World Cup final set the original record for largest U.S. television audience for a women's soccer match, averaging 18 million viewers. [78] [79] It was the most viewed English-language U.S. broadcast of any soccer match until the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup final between the United States and Japan. [80]

The 2015 Women's World Cup Final between the United States and Japan was the most watched soccer match—men's or women's—in American broadcast history. [81] It averaged 23 million viewers and higher ratings than the NBA finals and the Stanley Cup finals. [81] [82] The final was also the most watched US-Spanish language broadcast of a FIFA Women's World Cup match in history.

Overall, there were over 750 million viewers for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, making it the most watched Women's World Cup in history. The FIFA Women's World Cup is now the second-most watched FIFA tournament, with only the men's FIFA World Cup attracting more viewership. [83]

In popular culture Edit

A narrative nonfiction book covering the entire history of the team from 1985 to 2019 called The National Team: The Inside Story of the Women Who Changed Soccer was named one of Vanity Fair's best books of 2019 and made NPR's 2019 year-end books list. [84] [85] A book about the team's 1999 Women's World Cup campaign, Girls of Summer: The U.S. Women's Soccer Team and How It Changed the World was released in 2001 and in 2020 Netflix announced a film based on the book. [86]

In 2005, HBO released a documentary called Dare to Dream: The Story of the U.S. Women's Soccer Team. [87] In 2013, a documentary about the 1999 World Cup-winning team called The 99ers was produced by former player Julie Foudy and ESPN Films. [88]

Attendance Edit

The 1999 World Cup final, in which the United States defeated China, set a world attendance record for a women's sporting event of 90,185 in a sellout at the Rose Bowl in Southern California. [89] The record for Olympic women's soccer attendance was set by the 2012 Olympic final between the USWNT and Japan, with 80,023 spectators at Wembley Stadium. [90]

Pay discrimination Edit

In recent years, the players of the USWNT have waged an escalating legal fight with the United States Soccer Federation over gender discrimination. Central to their demands is equal pay. The players point to their lower paychecks as compared to the U.S. men's national team, despite their higher record of success in recent years. [91]

In April 2016, five players filed a wage-discrimination action against the U.S. Soccer Federation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. [92] The group consisted of Hope Solo, Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Becky Sauerbrunn.

One year later, in April 2017, it was announced that a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with U.S soccer had been made. The agreement stated that the players would have an increased base pay and improved match bonuses. These changes could increase their previous pay from $200,000 to $300,000. However, the CBA did not guarantee the U.S national women's team equal pay with the men's team. The CBA's five-year term through 2021 ensured that the next negotiation would not become an issue for the team in its upcoming competitions. On top of this CBA, U.S Soccer had agreed to pay the players for two years' worth of unequal per-diem payments. [93]

On March 8, 2019, all 28 members of the U.S. team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation. [94] The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, accused the Federation of "institutional gender discrimination". [95] The lawsuit claims that the discrimination affects not only the amount the players are paid but also their playing, training, and travel conditions. In May 2020, several key parts of the case were dismissed, with federal judge R. Gary Klausner noting that the team had agreed to take higher base compensation and other benefits in their most recent CBA instead of the bonuses received by the men's national team. [96]

On March 8, 2021, the second anniversary of the team's pay discrimination lawsuit, Congresswomen Doris Matsui and Rosa DeLauro introduced the Give Our Athletes Level Salaries (GOALS) Act to ensure the U.S. women's national soccer team "are paid fair and equitable wages compared to the U.S. Men's team". [97] The GOALS Act threatens to cut federal funding for the 2026 World Cup if the U.S. Soccer Federation does not comply. [98]

Artificial turf Edit

Along with their lawsuit for pay-equity, the US Women’s Soccer players have fought FIFA on policies regarding artificial turf. This battle to eliminate the use of turf in major women’s games heightened around the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, hosted by Canada during this tournament, the US Women played 8 of their 10 games on artificial turf. [99] Prior to the 2015 World Cup, Abby Wambach headed a discrimination lawsuit with other global soccer stars including Marta of Brazil and Homare Sawa of Japan. [100] Due to the tournament’s quick approach, the suit was dropped as players were denied an expedited hearing.


I Am Zlatan – David Lagercrantz
Although it’s not written by Zlatan himself (David Lagercrantz is the actual writer) it’s based on Zlatan’s own story about his life. I Am Zlatan has become an international bestseller.
Released: 2013

El Diego: The Autobiography of the World's Greatest Footballer – Diego Maradona
The most gifted player of all time? The story of Diego Armando Maradona is about success, but also the controversial episodes on (the hand of God) and outside the pitch (the cocaine, ephedrine and shootings against journalists). This is Diego’s own words.
Released: 2013

Immortal: The Biography of George Best – Duncan Hamilton
Duncan Hamilton work is not the only biography on the Wales legend, but perhaps the best. Few players lived as a fabulous life beside the pitch as George Best and no wonder that biography’s about him are sought after.
Released: 2014

Provided You Don't Kiss Me: 20 Years With Brian Clough – Duncan Hamilton
Brian Clough was a unique manager and his life is also interesting enough to be both object for a book and a motion picture (The Damned United).
Released: 2008

61 Minutes in Munich, the autobiography of Liverpool FC's first black footballer – Howard Gayle
Less known in comparison to John Barnes, Howard Gayle was nevertheless the first black player in Liverpool's first team. His story is about childhood, racism and football.
Released: 2016

Other football biographies and autobiographies that could be mentioned are:

  • Gazza: My story
  • Keane: The Autobiography
  • Viera: My Autobiography
  • 2sides: Rio Ferdinand – My Autobiography
  • The Romford Pelé: It&rsquos Only Ray Parlour&rsquos Autobiography
  • Paul Merson: How Not to Be a Professional Footballer
  • Kerry Dixon – Up Front: My Autobiography
  • Alan Stubbs – How Football Saved My Life
  • Keith Gillespie Autobiography – How Not to be a Football Millionaire
  • Doctor Socrates: Footballer, Philosopher, Legend by Andrew Downie

One Comment

What about Ethiopian afhlets, sorry

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Play a few games and get fame and fortune in return who wouldn&rsquot love that? Athletes and sportsmen, and women, have always been a great sour of inspiration for everyone. A few examples that would come to mind would be people like Michael Jordan, who was actually denied the opportunity to play on the varsity basketball team because he was too short and Dick Hoyt, better known as Team Hoyt amongst athletic circles for being the father who took to triathlons just so that his disabled son could enjoy being a part of them he has successfully completed 6 Ironman races. They symbolize the level of fitness, competitive edge, physique, popularity and fame that everyone wishes they had. In some countries, certain sportsmen are so famous and admired that they are actually worshiped. That said, it must be made clear that achieving that level of fame is no easy task and requires years of dedicated practice and training. Great athletes, whether they be cricketers, basketball or baseball players, formula 1 drivers, footballers or rugby players put in a substantial amount of their time and energy in perfecting their skills. To know more about such individuals, their life&rsquos story, timeline, trivia and interesting facts, you just have to breeze though the list of biographies mentioned below.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Lionel Messi Biography

Lionel Messi is an Argentinian footballer widely regarded as one of the greatest players of the modern generation. He plays for FC Barcelona and the Argentina national team. He has won FIFA world player of the year four times (a record already). He has often been described as Diego Maradona’s successor because of his prolific goal scoring record and ability to dribble past opponents.

“I have seen the player who will inherit my place in Argentine football and his name is Messi. Messi is a genius, and he can become an even better player.”

His potential is limitless, and I think he’s got everything it takes to become Argentina’s greatest player.”

Short Biography Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi was born, 24 June 1987, in Rosario, Argentina to a working-class family. His father was a factory steel worker, and his mother a cleaner.

He began playing from an early age, and his talent was soon apparent. However, at the age of 11, Messi was diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency (GHD). This was a condition that stunted growth and required expensive medical treatment, including the use of the drug Human growth hormone.

His local club, River Plate were interested in signing Messi but didn’t want to pay for his medical treatment. However, Messi was given a trial with Barcelona, and coach Carles Rexach was impressed – offering Messi a contract (written on a paper napkin!) which included paying for Messi’s treatment in Spain. Messi moved to Barcelona with his father and became part of the prestigious FC Barcelona youth academy.

“I made a lot of sacrifices by leaving Argentina, leaving my family to start a new life. But everything I did, I did for football, to achieve my dream. That’s why I didn’t go out partying, or do a lot of other things.”

Messi progressed through the ranks and was given his first appearance in the 2004/05 season becoming the youngest player to score a league goal. In 2006, Messi was part of the double winning team which won both La Liga (Spanish League) and Champions League. By next season, (2006-07) aged just 20, Messi was the first choice striker and an essential part of the Barcelona team – scoring 14 goals in 26 league games.

In the 2009-10 season, Messi scored 47 goals in all competitions, equalling Ronaldo’s record total for Barcelona. As the seasons have progressed, Messi kept improving and breaking his own records. In the calendar year of 2012, he broke the all-time world record for most goals scored in a calendar year. His final total of goals in 2012 was 91 – beating the previous record of 85 by German Gerd Muller, and Pele’s milestone of 75 in 1958.

“My record stood for 40 years – 85 goals in a year – and now the best player in the world has broken it, and I’m delighted for him. He is an incredible player, gigantic.”

At the start of 2013, in club football, Messi has scored 292 goals from a total of 359 appearances, and in international football, 31 goals from 76 appearances.

At the end of 2012, Messi turned down a very lucrative offer to play for an unnamed Russian side. It would have given Messi a salary of €20 million a year and made Messi the most expensive player in the world (Barcelona would have been paid €250 million). He turned down the offer because he was unsure if he would be playing in major European championships and the difficulties in moving to Russia. Instead, he signed a contract with Barcelona until the end of 2018. When asked about moving to the English Premier League, Messi revealed his sense of commitment to Barcelona.

“ Barcelona is my life. They have brought me to where I am today. I could not leave, I don’t want to leave. I know the Premier League is very good. But I cannot see myself playing in England because my heart is with Barcelona, always.”

International Career

Because Messi was brought up in Spain, since he was 11 years old, he has Spanish nationality. In 2004, he was offered the chance to play for Spain’s Under 20 side, but Messi decided to play for Argentina, the country of his birth. He led Argentina to victory in the 2005 FIFA Youth Championship. Messi made his full international debut in August 2005, during a friendly against Hungary. In his first game, Messi was sent off for allegedly elbowing a player. The decision was contentious and not in keeping with Messi’s style of play which is generally clean and in the spirit of fair play he has very rarely been accused of diving.

In 2006, he participated in the World Cup, becoming Argentina’s youngest player to play in the world cup. Argentina were eliminated in the quarter-finals. In 2008, he won an Olympic gold medal for Argentina in football at the Beijing Olympics. Initially, Barcelona had not allowed him permission to play, but new coach Pep Guardiola allowed him time off.

In the 2010 World Cup, Messi wore the number 10 shirt and played well to help Argentina reach the quarter-finals, but Messi struggled to score, and Argentina disappointingly lost 4-0 to Germany in the quarter-final. Messi has admitted he is desperate to play in a world cup final. Success for Messi in the World Cup would be the last test of greatness. Pele, by contrast, was part of Brazil’s three times winning World Cup side 󈧾, 󈨂 and 󈨊.

Messi is widely regarded as one of the most exciting players of the modern age – in fact, any age. He has a peerless ability to dribble and take on opponents. Maradona has described his ball control as supremely good. “The ball stays glued to his foot I’ve seen great players in my career, but I’ve never seen anyone with Messi’s ball control.” Messi has said he wishes to retain the joy of how a child plays football

“I have changed nothing, my style of play is still that of a child. I know that above all it is my job and that I should approach it in another way, but one must not lose sight of the fact that football is a game. It is imperative one plays to amuse oneself, to be happy. That is what children do and I do the same thing.” (total Barca)

After winning the Ballon d’Or for the fourth time in January 2013, Messi said:

“To tell you the truth this is really quite unbelievable. The fourth award that I have had is just too great for words. ” (BBC)

Messi and Ronaldo

Messi has often been compared to prolific Real Madrid goalscorer Christiano Ronaldo, but both have been keen to downplay the rivalry.

“Messi has his personality and I have mine. He has his game and I have mine. I also play in a big club like him. We are different in every aspect. But right now, he is the best.”

Messi’s goalscoring record

Source: Christopher Johnson, Barcelona FC. CC-SA-2.5

By any standards, Messi’s goal scoring record is exceptional. By June 2019, he has scored 419 goals in 445 official matches for Barcelona FC.

    • In 2012/13, Messi set an all-time world record of scoring in 21 consecutive games (33 goals from 21 games)
    • He holds the Guinness World Record for most goals in a calendar year – 91 goals during 2012.
    • He is the only player to score in four consecutive Champions League campaigns.
    • His international record for Argentina is 68 goals from 133 appearances.

    Messi major honours

    • Spanish La Liga title(*10) : 2004–05, 2005–06, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2012–13, 2014–15, 2015–16
    • Spanish Cup (*6) – Copa del Rey
    • Supercopa de España (*6)
    • UEFA Champions League (*4) : 2005–06, 2008–09, 2010–11, 2014-15
    • UEFA Super Cup (*3)
    • FIFA Club World Cup (3)
    • Olympic Gold Medal: 2008
    • FIFA U-20 World Cup: 2005
    • 2006 World Cup – QF
    • 2010 World Cup – QF
    • 2014 World Cup – Runners-up.
    • 2018 World Cup

    Wealth and income

    Messi has frequently been the target of other football clubs with big transfer budgets, but he has remained loyal to Barcelona FC. He is one of the highest paid footballers in the world. His base salary is estimated at €40 million per year. His combined income 2018 from all sources was €126m. This made him the highest paid sports star – according to Forbes. From 2018, his weekly salary from Barcelona is $667,000 per week.

    Private life

    By the standards of modern football, Messi has a relatively private and modest lifestyle. He makes efforts to keep links to his hometown of Rosario. He has an Argentinian girlfriend Antonella Roccuzzo, and they have two children. His first child Thiago was born in November 2012.

    Recommended Book – Lionel Messi – Real Bios

    Messi acts as an ambassador for Unicef, and also runs his own charitable foundation – supporting access to education and sport for children. Because of his own expensive medical treatment, he has also helped Argentinian hospitals with paying for similar treatment to his own.

    World Cup 2014

    Many commentators have stated that Lionel Messi has performed at his best in all competitions, except the World Cup. In both the 2006 and 2010 World Cup, Argentina were knocked out in the quarter-finals, with Messi not at his best.

    The 2014 World Cup in Brazil is an opportunity for Messi to make an impact on the highest stage of them all. In the opening game against, Bosnia – Herzegovina, Messi scored a great goal to give Argentina a winning start. He scored four goals to help Argentina reach the World Cup Final. In the final, Argentina lost 1-0 to Germany. Messi was awarded ‘Golden Ball’ player of the tournament, though the decision was not universally supported. After the tournament, Messi replied:

    “I do not care about the Golden Ball. I am just upset by the wasted chances. We had the best chances. We knew we could not dominate the game but we knew what we wanted to do. Right now I do not care about my prize. I just wanted to lift the cup and bring it to Argentina. The pain is very great.”

    In June 2016, a very disappointed Messi announced his retirement from international football, after missing a penalty as Argentina got knocked out of the Copa America final. However, Messi later reversed his decision, saying he loved playing for Argentina too much, and “I see there are many problems in Argentinian football and I don’t intend to create another one.”

    However, Messi returned to international football and led Argentina in the 2018 World Cup. Despite carrying the weight of expectation of a nation, the World Cup was considered a great dissappointment. However, in the 2018/19 season Messi returned to his usual scintillating performance with Barcelona.

    Published 10 January 2018. Last updated 10 December 2019.

    • Full name Lionel Andrés Messi
    • Date of birth 24 June 1987 (1987-06-24)
    • Place of birth Rosario, Argentina
    • Height 1.69 m (5 ft 7 in)
    • Playing Position: Forward
    • Total club appearances 684. Total Goals 578 (Dec. 2018)
    • Total international appearances 151. Total Goals 81 (Dec. 2018)
    • La Liga titles with Barcelona (9)
    • UEFA Champions League (4) 2005–06, 2008–09, 2010–11, 2014–15
    • FIFA Ballon d’Or/Ballon d’Or (5)
    • Guinness World Record as top goalscorer for club and country in a calendar year: 91 goals in 2012

    Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Biography of Lionel Messi”, Oxford, UK. First published 26 June 2012. Last updated 26 June 2019.

    The Amazing Story of Leo Messi

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