Brought up in Spain, Messi has Spanish nationality since he was 11 years old. In 2004, Messi was invited to play for Spain’s U20 side, but he decided to play for the country of his birth, Argentina. He led his homeland to victory in the 2005 FIFA Youth Championship. The young star made his official international debut in August 2005, during a friendly match against Hungary. In his first match, Messi was sent off for allegedly elbowing a player. The decision of the referee was contentious and not in keeping with Messi’s style which is generally clean and fair play. In fact, he has rarely been accused of diving.
In 2006, he played in the World Cup, becoming the youngest player of Argentina to play in this great tournament. However, Argentina were eliminated in the quarter-finals. Two years later, he won an Olympic gold medal for his nation in football at the Beijing Olympics. Although Barcelona had not allowed him to play, new coach Pep Guardiola allowed him time off.
In the 2010 World Cup, wearing the number 10 shirt, Messi played well to help Argentina reach the quarter-finals, but then he struggled to score, and Argentina disappointingly lost 4-0 to Germany. Messi has admitted that he is desperate to play in a world cup final. Success in the World Cup would be the last test of his greatness.
The Argentinian superstar is worldwidely regarded as one of the most exciting players of the modern age. He has a great ability to dribble and take on opponents. Maradona has described Messi’s ball control as supremely good. Messi has said that he wishes to retain the joy of how a child plays football.
Messi and Ronaldo
Although Messi has usually been compared to famous Real Madrid goalscorer Christiano Ronaldo, both have been keen to downplay the rivalry.