Messi, who stands just 5-foot 7-inches, got his start in the game at the age of 8, when he started playing for the Newell’s Old Boys, a team in Rosario. Recognizably smaller than most of the boys he played with, Messi was eventually diagnosed by doctors as suffering from a hormone deficiency that restricted his growth.
Medication wasn’t cheap??about 500 a month??and Messi’s parents couldn’t afford to pay for it on their own. So, at the age of 13, when Messi was offered a chance to play for Barcelona with the opportunity to have his medical bills covered by the team, Messi’s family picked up and moved across the Atlantic to make a new home in Spain.
Short and fast with a fierce style of play, Messi soon drew comparisons to another famous Argentinean footballer: Diego Maradona. Messi moved quickly through the ranks of the team’s junior system, and by the age of 16 Messi had made his first appearance for Barcelona. He put himself in the record books on May 1, 2005, as the youngest player to ever score a goal for the franchise. That same year he led Argentina to the title in the under-20 World Cup, scoring on a pair of penalty kicks to propel the team over Nigeria.
In recent years Messi has become one of the game’s highest paid.