Written by By Staff Writer
Hollywood has a history of turning great players into heroes — think the Rocky Balboa movies, Ali, Cassius Clay, Mohammad Ali, Mariano (and now Neymar) – so it should come as no surprise that Messi inspires apocryphal stories too.
Here’s a round-up of some of his most memorable and noteworthy achievements.
Lionel Messi in action for Argentina against Honduras. Credit: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images
1. How close were the 1994 US World Cup dream team to complete a ‘greatest XI’ that was missing a few key players?
A USA-based Buenos Aires reporter, Chris Grant, organized a group photo of the team, which eventually included Beckham, Eric Cantona, Javier Mascherano, Luis Figo, Giggs, Deulofeu, Messi, Franck Ribery, Clarence Seedorf, Albert Larentowicz, Sol Campbell, Robbie Keane, Owen Hargreaves, Christian Vieri, Deco, David Trezeguet, Andres Iniesta, Francis Jeffers, Peter Schmeichel, Carlos Dunga and Claudio Reyna.
“I didn’t want to shoot just the team,” Grant told Telemundo. “There was a little bit of banter and some gossip, so we got the whole team.”
2. Since Messi arrived at Barcelona, the club has never won the Champions League. Is there some kind of mandate to accept a limited trophy haul from the club?
Barcelona Football Club is a club of all its players, led by the club president, Cesc Fabregas, and Iniesta.
It is often wrongly described as a one-club club, but it has always been a club first and foremost and been the envy of all the other top teams in Europe.
And no, neither the club president nor the top player have ever declared a goal to never win the Champions League. Nothing could be further from the truth.
3. Despite leading Barcelona to five Spanish league titles and two Champions League victories, Messi is only the third top scorer in La Liga.
A report by Gil DiOrio’s website, The Nil, said coach Frank Rijkaard would rather play without Messi in certain matches.
The Nil also claims his childhood hero, Diego Maradona, told club officials to “be ashamed” if they continued to play Messi in every match.
4. Over the course of his career, Lionel Messi has scored more than the vast majority of professional players.
The forward’s 633 career goals rank him fourth on the all-time list, which, curiously, includes quite a few Real Madrid players.
“It’s a fantastic achievement, always nice to score more than any other player,” he said. “I’m very happy because it means I’ve been able to score goals for many clubs.”
5. In one of the most unlikely stats you will ever read, Lionel Messi has also bagged more penalties than Didier Drogba.
The media outlet, Footballmole, quoted the statistic.
“Until Messi, no one had managed to score more than the Ivorian striker Didier Drogba and only the Brazilian Rivaldo had the closest thing to hitting the target more than once a week,” said the report.
6. Lionel Messi has won more gold and silver medals in international football than any other player, bar Pele.
He has also taken part in more Olympics than any other footballer.
On April 15, the Argentinian entered the history books with his 100th appearance for his country.
7. Lionel Messi is the youngest player to win the Fifa World Player of the Year award.
In 2008, he beat Cristiano Ronaldo and Rafael van der Vaart to the coveted prize, at the age of 21 years and 349 days.
8. While Lionel Messi has scored a total of 633 goals in domestic leagues, he is second on the all-time list only to Hristo Stoichkov, whose tally of 766 was picked up in the Bulgarian league.
The striker was 41 days older than Messi was at the time of his retirement.
9. When playing against Manchester United, or at Old Trafford, Lionel Messi has struggled to shine for Barcelona, despite some fantastic individual performances.
Worst of all, he struggled to get a result for Argentina against Argentina. And while they won 4-0 on 2 November 2005, Lionel Messi was on the bench for most of the game.
10. It has to be said that Lionel Messi is the only player to manage to achieve this… without having a goal… in five consecutive Champions League finals.