Football fans love goals, and love players that can score them and for that reason, and many others, is why Lionel Messi is one of the most loved footballers in the world today. He isn’t just a goal scoring machine, but a delight to watch when he has the ball at his feet. He is a player that you can watch and not predict what he is going to do next. There are only a handful of players that can do what he does with a football. He can create goals and score beautiful goals. He isn’t a striker, but is more than just an attacking midfielder and as a forward he drops deeper than most. Quite simply, he is the most unconventional forward football has ever seen.
There are players out there that have been playing football their whole careers and haven’t reached the milestone of 100 goals, yet at 24 Messi have surpassed 200. In regards to the league, Messi is the 2nd all time goal scorer with 132, recently beating Ladislao Kubala’s 131 record and is now chasing down César Rodríguez’s record of 195. In all competitions Messi stands 2nd with 203 goals with César Rodríguez leading that also with 235, so strangely Messi will have to do more to become Barcelona’s league top goal scorer than he will to become Barcelona’s all-time top goal scorer.
A collection of first’s
Well now there are two 1st’s here, his 1st senior game and his 1st official Barcelona game which came in the league. His 1st game for the Senior team was a friendly against FC Porto when the stadium was being inaugurated in 2003. His first official game for Barcelona came a year later, making his league debut against RCD Espanyol on 16th October 2004 becoming youngest club player who played in La Liga at 17 years and 114 days, although this record was broken by Bojan Krkić in September 2007.
1st League goal
In his debut season he played in 7 games and scored his first goal for the senior side. He was still playing for the Barcelona B team during this time and had scored 6 goals in 17 games. His first goal was against Albacete on 1 May 2005, Messi was 17 years, ten months and seven days old becoming the youngest to ever score in the La Liga for Barcelona but that was again broken by Bojan Krkić in 2007. Messi’s first goal could never have been an easy tap-in but would have to be something much more difficult. Messi was unfortunate not to have finished the game with two goals as the first was deemed offside, but replays show it was a tight call and may have been onside, nonetheless his chip over the keeper didn’t count, but that didn’t get him down. When Ronaldinho put him through again with a nice chip pass Messi dispatched the goal with a well executed lob over the keeper, an audacious first goal for anyone but one we have know come to expect from the Argentine superstar.
1st Champions League goal
Messi’s first Champions League goal came in the 5-0 demolition of Panathinaikos. Again it may have been an easier goal for him to score, but for the average player they maybe would have struggled. With defenders making a mistake, Messi pounced and chipped it over the on rushing keeper and then knocked it into the open net, he was clearly happy to finally have got his Champions League goal.
Messi had to wait another season (2006–07) before he grabbed his first hat-trick. Now any another player will get their hat-trick in a game that they are in control of, a game where the opposition where the underdogs, but special player can get a hat-trick in the biggest of games and none come much bigger than El Clásico. And in doing so became the youngest player ever to score in that fixture. Barcelona trailed Madrid each time in that game, and it was Messi that drew them level each time with the game ending 3-3. At just 20 Messi was showing the world what he had to offer, and when there are players in the game that can seemingly choke in the big games, he was showing that he had the ability and mentality to step up and get the goals to get his team a result.
Messi reached his century of goals in the 4-0 win over Sevilla on 17th January he scored his 100th goal for the club in the 4–0 victory over Sevilla. It was a nice easy goal for Messi to score, and not one that would really be fitting for his 100th goal for Barcelona, but none the less, I am sure he was happy to have scored regardless.
During the 2006/2007 season Messi had really started to show people what everybody at Barcelona already new and that he was going to be a huge star. Being from Argentina the Diego Maradona comparisons were always going to happen, as any up-and-coming new Argentine star is going to have the label “New Maradona” at some point, but that normally doesn’t last as no player can actually live up to it, except Messi that is.
His technical ability with the ball, his dribbling ability, his small stature are all comparable to Maradona, and in that season Messi seemed to do all he could do resemble Maradona, whether that was with an amazing solo goal, or a cheating handball. All of that fuelled the debates of “can Messi be the new Maradona” but a closer look at that is for another article.
Let’s have a look at the wonder goal where Messi seemingly took on the whole team.
At this time, Messi wasn’t the focal point for the Barcelona attack. There was Eto’o, Ibrahimovic and Henry and people were more interested in Iniesta and Xavi at this time, so Messi was lucky to be able to play and not be the one relied upon, but could enjoy the game, and in turn we could enjoy watching him play.
People argued that as the years go by maybe Messi could possibly simmer down, but the opposite happened, he kicked it up another gear and then another gear after that. He has become the main striker, which is sytrange to say as he is not our typical striker, but you cant class him as a goal scoring midfielder, though he drops so deep that at times Iniesta is more forward than him and he is passing or collecting the ball from Xavi, to say he has a free role is an understatement but he knows where he needs to be and when.
The battle for the Pichichi Trophy
The Pichichi Trophy is awarded Spanish sports newspaper Marca to the top goal scorer for each league season. Last season saw Cristiano Ronaldo collect it with Messi winning it the previous season. Both players have had prolific seasons with both scoring over 100 goals in the past two seasons plus this one which is just amazing. With Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Real Madrid in the 2009-2010 season, La Liga saw the two world’s best players come head to head, and everybody was excited watch what was going to happen, and boy were people left happy.
No doubt they are both very driven in character and will always aspire to score as many goals as they can, but to have that extra incentive to out-do the other has just made for great entertainment and really seems to have spurred each other forward. For Cristiano Ronaldo to have already reached his century for Real Madrid is amazing and it is clear he has also benefited from the competition, and that doesn’t look like it is going to end as he will keep pushing himself until he is regarded as the worlds best as Messi is more than likely to win the Ballon d’Or again. But if that is the case then that will just keep pushing Messi to do better also, it may not mean that Cristiano Ronaldo gets the recognition he deserves, but it does mean that we get to see some amazing football from both players for years to come.
“Someday I will explain that I was at the birth of one of the footballing greats: Leo Messi” – Ronaldinho
There is no doubt that Messi is an amazing footballer. He is more to the sport than just a goal scorer and playmaker, but an entertainer. When he is doing what he is doing, it is not done to simply look good, but does what he does as that is what naturally comes to him to do. He strives to be the best player he can be, so when he does something that leaves you in speechless and in awe, know that is wasn’t done to impress but done because he can.
“Put in the superlatives yourselves, I’m running out. It’s already been a while now that he has been outstanding. He’s more than decisive in every way. That he’s capable of doing everything that he does at his age is something impressive, that doesn’t make any sense.
“It is clear that Messi is on a level above all others. Those who do not see that are blind.”
“This year at Barcelona team spirit is dominating but players like Messi show there is individuality too. He is a virtuoso player who is determined and fast with the ball at his feet….he is a mixture of Maradona and Cruyff.”
“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.”
“He’s a unique player and he deserves it, because he can do things of almost imperceptible excellence and is a gem to watch.”
“Nobody was so wonderful at 19 years, neither Pele nor Maradona.”
“The other day I saw one of his games. He was running with the ball at a hundred percent full speed, I don’t know how many touches he took, maybe five or six, but the ball was glued to his foot. It’s practically impossible!”
“Every time he plays, Leo Messi reminds me more of Maradona, both left-footed and short, Messi is the best player in the world, along with Kaká and Cristiano Ronaldo. For us it is not a surprise. Since he began to come and train with us and we knew we would go down this path. Someday I will explain that I was at the birth of one of the footballing greats: Leo Messi.”