Messi wins fifth Ballon d'Or
Lionel Messi was awarded his fifth FIFA Ballon d'Or award in Zurich, clinching the award for best football player in the world this year. He was up against Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, who won the title consecutively for the last two years, and fellow Barcelona player, Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior. Messi won 41.33% of the votes, compared to Ronaldo's meagre 27.6%.
What is the Ballon d'Or?
The Ballon d'Or is an annual award given out by FIFA to the best male player based on his performance in the previous calendar year. It was started in 2010 after France Football's Ballon d'Or and FIFA's Player of the Year Award were merged. Players are selected by votes from coaches and captains of national football teams and journalists from across the world.
The formative years of Messi's career
Born on 24 June 1987 in Argentina, Messi was diagnosed at an early age with a growth hormone deficiency. At age 6, he played for the youth side of Newell's Old Boys and scored nearly 500 goals. At age 13, he tried out for Barcelona; however being a foreign player, he could only play in friendlies and the Catalan League.
Playing at Barcelona
Lionel Messi was enrolled in the Spanish Football Federation in 2002. He joined Barcelona's youth team, the "Baby Dream Team", scoring 36 goals in 30 games for the Cadetes A, who went ahead to win the Catalan Cup and the Spanish Cup that year. He received an offer from Arsenal at the end of his first season, but chose to remain with Barcelona instead.
Rising up the ranks
During the 2003–04 season, his fourth with Barcelona, Messi rapidly progressed through the club's ranks. At 16 years old, he made his first-team debut as a substitute in the 75th minute during a friendly against Jose Mourinho's Porto on 16 November 2003. By the 2004-05 season, Messi was a guaranteed starter for Barcelona B, playing 17 games and scoring on 6 occasions.
Making the first team
In October 2004, senior players in Barcelona asked manager Frank Rijkaard to promote Messi to the first team. Messi made his first appearance as the youngest player to represent Barcelona in an official match on October 16, 2004, against Espanyol. As a substitute player, he played only 77 minutes in nine matches for the first team that season.
A legend is unleashed
On May 1, 2005, he became the youngest player then, to score a league goal for FC Barcelona - against Albacete. Messi won the Under 20 World Cup with Argentina as the leading goalscorer and was voted best player in the tournament. In the 2006-07 season, though Barcelona did not win any titles, Messi came second for FIFA's Player of the Year Award.
Awards and records
In 2009, he won both the FIFA World Player Award and the French Ballon d'Or. In 2010, 2011 and 2012 he won the Ballon d'Or, the first person to hold the title four times. He was the runner up for the Ballon d'Or in 2013 and 2014 making it 8 times in succession that he was among the top three footballers in the world.
World Record Holder
Lionel Messi holds the Guinness World Record titles for most goals scored in the La Liga (295), one La Liga season (50), a calendar year (91) and a single Champions League match (5).