Lionel Messi is 33 years old today. Many happy returns, mate!
For many football fans, La Pulga is the greatest player of all time. For some, he’s the second or third best. And for a particularly deranged but vocal part of the internet, he is a fraud.
This is not the place to rehash these aged old debates, however. No, as it’s his birthday we thought we’d reflect on Messi’s legendary career so far by remembering the various records he holds.
33 of them to be exact. You know, because it’s 33rd birthday? Clever.
Let’s start off easy shall we? No other player has found the back of the net more times than Messi in La Liga history. He has 440 goals in total and continues to stretch his lead over Cristiano Ronaldo in second place.
Not only is Messi leading the way for goals, he also tops La Liga’s chart for all-time assists.
The Argentine has racked up 169 and is well ahead of longtime teammate, turned Barça manager-in-waiting Xavi in second place.
Messi must be running out of room for all the match balls he’s taken home. He has racked up 36 La Liga hat tricks in total, with his last one coming against Eibar back in February.
Messi’s crazy exploits began during the 2009/2010 season where scored on 47 occasions. In each of the ten seasons that have followed, he’s hit over 40 goals. A truly staggering record.
There really is nowhere to hide from Messi is there? This was most brutally shown when La Pulga netted against all 19 La Liga sides consecutively between November 2012 and March 2013.
2012 was a good 365 days for Messi. He scored 79, yes 79, times for Barcelona and on 12 occasions for his country.
His 91 goals predictably saw him clinch the Ballon d’Or that year.
During the 2011/2012 season, La Pulga could not stop scoring. He finished the campaign on a frankly flabbergasting 73 goals in all competitions. Unsurprisingly, this set a new world-record, blowing Gerd Muller’s previous total of 67 strikes out of the water.
The 2010s were characterised by the battle between Messi and Ronaldo for the Ballon d’Or. The former’s trophy cabinet seems to suggest that he won the argument.
Messi has clinched the award on six occasions – one more than Ronaldo and also more than other player in history.
Messi has won the European Golden Shoe – awarded to the continent’s top scorer – on six occasions.
Once again, Ronaldo is his closest challenger with four.
This is a fairly recent one. Messi overtook Ronaldo as the all-time top scorer in Europe’s top five leagues. The Portuguese is just a handful of goals behind however and will be gagging to get his record back as Serie A gets back underway.
Messi became the fastest player to a century of Champions League goals when he netted a brace against Chelsea in March 2018.
“Damn Argentinians! Coming over here, winning all our La Liga titles.” A xenophobic Spaniard, circa 2019.
He may not be the top goalscorer in Champions League history – that honour is held by Ronaldo – but no one has netted more in the group stages of the competition than Messi.
Another somewhat specific record that Messi boasts is being the highest scoring player in the Champions League Round of 16.
Messi is currently neck and neck with Ronaldo for the most Champions League hat tricks. Both players have managed eight in their careers to date.
No Barcelona player is more decorated than Messi. All in all, he’s won 34 trophies during his spell at Camp Nou.
La Pulga’s record 70 goals for Argentina does not look likely to be bested any time soon. He overtook second placed Gabriel Batistuta some time ago and his other nearest challenger are all either close to retirement or have hung up their boots already.
As a fresh faced 18-year-old, Messi popped up with a goal in Argentina’s 6-0 demolition of Serbia and Montenegro during the 2006 World Cup.
This is quite a fun one. No player has ever scored at a World Cup in their teens, 20s and 30s.
He truly is a timeless talent.
Messi is the undisputed king of the greatest club fixture in European football, El Clasico.
The forward has racked up 26 goals from 38 appearances in the derby, eight more than Ronaldo.
By Messi standards, 48 assists in 138 international games is not all that impressive. However, it’s still an Argentinian record.
His June strike against Girona represented the 36 different La Liga club that Messi has scored against in his career.
Real Madrid legend Raul has managed just 35. Rubbish.
One of the best dead ball takers of all time, it is no surprise that Messi has scored the most free kicks in La Liga history. He has converted 34 in total.
In 2015, Messi scored in La Liga, the Copa del Rey, the Champions League, Copa America, UEFA Super Cup, Spanish Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup. That’s seven different competitions in a single year. Mad.
He may not be considered a super sub, but Messi still holds the record for the most Barcelona goals from the bench. He’s managed to bag 34 strikes in games he was left out of the first team, which to be fair do not come around that often, making it even more remarkable.
This is a record that really matters.
Messi has appeared on no less than 11 video game covers during his career, more than any other footballer EVER.
The Pichichi trophy, named after legendary Athletic Bilbao goal-getter Rafael “Pichichi” Moreno, is handed out by Marca each season to La Liga’s top scorer.
Messi is currently tied for the most awards of all time with Telmo Zarra, another brilliant Athletic Club goal scorer.
Only the very best goals get nominated for a Puskas award, so it makes sense that someone of Messi’s otherworldly talent has been in the reckoning more times than anyone else – seven to be precise.
For four consecutive years beginning in 2009, Messi won the Ballon d’Or. It’s a period of unrelenting dominance we are unlikely to ever witness again.
The FIFA Club World Cup gets a bad rap in the UK, but in other parts of the globe it’s the pinnacle…sort of.
Messi is the only player to have won the competition’s Golden Ball – awarded to the tournament best performer – on two occasions, first in 2009 and then again in 2011.
See this one is a bit tricky. In terms of recorded assists no player in history comes close to Messi, but who’s to say how many goals someone like Pele set up at his peak?
Imagine netting a hat trick… in the Copa America… in 19 minutes… from the bench. Messi doesn’t have to, completing the feat against Panama in 2016.
Captaining your country is one of the greatest moments in a footballer’s career and it’s even better if you get to do it at a World Cup.
Messi experienced this pleasure at a remarkably young age, leading his country two days before his 23rd birthday during the 2010 World Cup.
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