6 of the Best Moments of Lionel Messi’s Career

Lionel Messi is Number 3 in 90min’s Top 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time Series

Yep. We’re going to try and define Lionel Messi’s career in six moments. Seven achievements. Lionel Messi, the man with a list of honours longer than Slenderman’s arms. 

So yeah, there’s going to be one or two things that don’t make it here. 

Olympic Gold 2008

Sergio Aguero,Lionel Messi

Still Messi’s only semi-senior international honour, he spearheaded a team including Pablo Zabaleta, Angel Di Maria, Javier Mascherano, Fernando Gago, Juan Román Riquelme and Sergio Aguero, with Ever Banega and Ezequiel Lavezzi coming off the bench and oh my god how did this team only win by one goal in the final?!

Nigeria’s centre-forward was Peter Odemwingie! The man to his right – nominally a striker – is now 32 years old and has scored 44 club goals in total! Can you retroactively take an Olympic gold medal off someone for not winning by enough

Just All of 2009, All of it

Barcelona´s Argentinian forward Lionel M

La Liga. Copa del Rey. Champions League. Spanish Super Cup. UEFA Super Cup. World Club Cup. First Ballon d’Or. First UEFA Club Player of the Year. First La Liga Player of the Year. 

It feels ridiculous to call 2008/09 Messi’s breakout season – he’d already scored 30-odd goals for Barcelona and played topside of 100 games for the club. But then he was just another phenomenon, another brilliant young player who ‘could be‘. In 2009, he was

He also, in that 2009 Champions League final against Manchester United, scored a goal that he since called his best ever (for its ‘importance’). Who’s arguing?

Semi Final vs Real Madrid, 2011

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel M

On the way to Messi’s third Champions League title as a Barcelona player (and his second scoring final), Barça came up against Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid. The Argentine had been on a handy run against Los Blancos, scoring in four of the previous six league Clasicos, but Mourinho’s side had shown steel just a fortnight before to end a five-match Barça winning run. 

A scrappy game at the Bernabeu boiled over on the hour mark, with Real centre-back Pepe sent off and Mourinho sent to follow him for his own protestations. That flash-point is what the match may be best remembered for, but Messi opened the scoring with a neat finish before producing some of his very, very best. 

To kill the tie against his great rivals, he skipped past four players on a drive into the box before finishing deftly on his weaker right foot. Given what had come before, the goal is sometimes forgotten. It really shouldn’t be. 

The Half-Century

Barcelona's midfielder Andres Iniesta (L

There have been 56 winners of Spain’s Pichichi trophy and, until the 2010s, nobody had done it with a 40-goal season. Cristiano Ronaldo raised the bar with 41 goals in 2010/11, and then Messi…scored 50 the very next season to put the record on a very, very high shelf. 

If he hadn’t been suspended for one game against a Sporting Gijon team who conceded a very nice 69 goals that season, if could’ve been even more. He could’ve added to his eight hat-tricks, which included two four-goal hauls. If he’d played more than half an hour against La Real in just the second game of the season (he didn’t score), who knows? 

50 goals. 50 league goals in a season. Christ. 

La Liga’s All-Time Leader

“Yeah, alright, Messi’s the all-time leading scorer in La Liga. Obviously. He’s been in the league since he was a teenager and he’s 32 now, he should be up there.”

Yeah but he broke the record when he was 27 years and five months. Now he’s nearly 200 ahead of the bloke whose record he beat. And he’s more than 100 ahead of anyone since. 

“Oh, right. Jesus.”

Sixth Ballon d’Or


Defining moments have come more rarely for Messi in recent years. There have been finals, but not the most major ones. He hasn’t played in a Champions League final since 2015, and the World Cup…well, we don’t talk about the World Cup. 

There was the PSG remontada, but that was – honestly – more of a Neymar night, besides which a Massimiliano Allegri masterclass in the next round rendered the whole thing hollow. 

However. For the man who measures himself against only one other, winning the 2019 Ballon d’Or after a four-year break, taking him back above Ronaldo (who, at 35, is unlikely to win another) and getting a little reminder from the world that he’s still loved? Yeah. That was nice. 

For more from Chris Deeley, follow him on Twitter at @ThatChris1209!

90min’s ‘Top 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time’ can be found here.

Number 50: Luka Modric

Number 49: John Charles

Number 48: Hugo Sanchez

Number 47: Jairzinho

Number 46: Omar Sivori

Number 45: Paolo Rossi

Number 44: Paul Breitner

Number 43: George Weah

Number 42: Kaka

Number 41: Lev Yashin

Number 40: Gunnar Nordahl

Number 39: Kevin Keegan

Number 38: Hristo Stoichkov

Number 37: Gianluigi Buffon

Number 36: Johan Neeskens

Number 35: Xavi Hernandez

Number 34: Luis Suarez

Number 33: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge

Number 32: Andres Iniesta

Number 31: Rivelino

Number 30: Bobby Moore

Number 29: Socrates

Number 28: Sandor Kocsis

Number 27: Lothar Matthaus

Number 26: Ronaldinho

Number 25: Ruud Gullit

Number 24: Bobby Charlton

Number 23: Giuseppe Meazza

Number 22: Raymond Kopa

Number 21: Romario

Number 20: Eusebio

Number 19: Marco van Basten

Number 18: George Best

Number 17: Zico

Number 16: Franco Baresi

Number 15: Cristiano Ronaldo

Number 14: Ferenc Puskas

Number 13: Paolo Maldini

Number 12: Gerd Müller

Number 11: Mané Garrincha

Number 10: Alfredo Di Stefano

Number 9: Roberto Baggio

Number 8: Michel Platini

Number 7: Ronaldo

Number 6: Zinedine Zidane

Number 5: Johan Cruyff

Number 4: ?Franz Beckenbauer


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