Lionel Messi’s Greatest Moments as the Barcelona Superstar Celebrates Turning 30 (more pics)It seems like he has been around for an eternity, but Saturday marked the day that one of the greatest players ever to have played the beautiful game turned 30.
Lionel Messi, arguably the most successful graduate from Barcelona’s famous La Masia, enters his fourth decade on this planet after enjoying the most astonishing 10 years in Catalonia.
The good news of course is that he looks far from finished, and though he has already achieved unprecedented levels of success in his 20’s, Messi is likely to continue amazing us all well into his 30’s.
It’s an impossible task to pick the top moments from a glittering career so far, but here are seven that demonstrate just how good this little guy from Rosario really is…
7. His First Ever Goal for Barcelona
Few could really have predicted what Messi would achieve when he made his Barcelona debut back in 2004.
Incredibly, it took him over seven months to score his first goal for the club, although perhaps rather predictably, it was worth the wait, as he delicately chipped the ball over Albacete’s keeper.
Messi quickly jumped on the shoulders of then World Player of the Year Ronaldinho to mark this important breakthrough in his career and as we now know, he has since brought that goal average down a touch or two…
6. Rare Success With Argentina in 2008
Despite his ridiculous success at Barcelona, Messi has rarely enjoyed many happy times with his native Argentina.
In fact, such has been his misery on the international stage, that Messi has lost all four finals he has played for his country; perhaps the most sickening being the World Cup final defeat to Germany back in 2014.
But among all this despair, there was a rare moment of joy for Messi when he represented Argentina at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
A team full of star names was never likely to fail as the Barca star scored twice during a successful campaign that ended with a 1-0 win over Nigeria in the final.
No winner’s medals in the World Cup or Copa America, but at least Messi can boast an Olympic gold medal.
5. That Header in the 2009 Champions League Final
If the man himself says that it was one of his favourite goals, then you know it was pretty damn good.
A virtuoso display against Manchester United in the Champions League final was capped off by a superb goal as Messi arguably produced one of his greatest ever performances to seal a historic treble for Barcelona.
A wonderfully guided header nestled into Edwin van der Sar’s net, as he grabbed his side’s second and final goal of the night.
A star had already been born long ago, but it was the Champions League final of 2009 that the world really took notice of just how gifted the little man truly was.
4. Dismantling Arsenal in 2010
Messi once scored five goals in a single Champions League fixture against Bayer Leverkusen, but it was his four goals against Arsenal in 2010 that further cemented his legendary status.
With his team reeling from Nicklas Bendter’s opener, Messi took it upon himself to single handedly blitz the Gunners defence and secure Barcelona’s spot in the semi-finals.
A dazzling 21-minute first half hat-trick, including that delicious chip over Manuel Almunia, all-but ended the tie and to further highlight his superiority on the night, Messi scored a sublime solo goal late on to finish the game with all four goals and seal a 6-3 aggregate victory.
3. Breaking Cesar Rodriguez’s 60-year Record to Become Barcelona’s All-time Top Goalscorer
Records are there to be broken, but it took 60 years for Barcelona’s all-time goalscoring record to be smashed.
Lionel Messi bettered Cesar Rodriguez’s 232 tally in the 5-3 win over Granada back in 2012 to stand alone as the Blaugrana’s all-time top scorer. It was of course, another delicate piece of skill that did it, as Messi once again lifted the ball over the keeper to seal his deserved spot on top of the pile.
Not only has he since gone on to double Rodriguez’s tally for Barca, but Messi has now racked up over 500 goals for his boyhood club.
For the record, his tally currently stands at 507, and considering the freakish nature of this guy’s talent, it would be foolish to rule out him hitting four figures.
2. An Iconic Clasico Moment
Despite a certain Cristiano Ronaldo dominating headlines throughout the last season, the numbers from Messi’s 2016/2017 campaign are simply staggering.
The Argentine scored 54 goals in 52 games last season to rubbish any suggestions that he is in decline. Whilst Barca saw their title taken away by arch rivals Real Madrid, they did at least enjoy bragging rights in the second El Clasico of the season.
A 3-2 victory was confirmed when Messi popped up to grab a last-minute winner and he duly celebrated by removing his shirt and showing his name to the disgruntled Bernabeu crowd.
They say a picture says a thousand words, and it’s this very pose that will now become synonymous with the biggest fixture in club football.
1. 2012 – A Record Breaking Year
Such has been his consistency, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when Messi has been at the peak of his powers. Success is often measured in trophies, but it was arguably 2012 that ‘Leo’ was at his best, as he broke another goalscoring record set by Gerd Mueller.
The superstar surpassed the German’s 85 goals in a calendar year and though he has since seen his new record of 91 goals matched by Ronaldo, it was the Argentine that got there first.
Is it any wonder then this man won three Ballons d’Or in a row around that time?