Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini was born on 24th June 1987 in Rosario,Argentina. He was the third child of Jorge Messi and Celia Cuccittini. Belonging from a football loving family, young Messi always played football with his brothers and cousins(Maximilano and Biancuatti) who also went on to become professional footballers.
Little Messi's football journey started from the age of 4 when he joined a local club Grandoli,where he was coached by his father. It is said that the earliest influence of football on Messi came from his maternal grandmother Celia Oliveira Cuccittini ,who accompanied him in his training and matches. He was greatly affected when his grandmother died just before his 11th birthday. Since then he started celebrating his goals by looking up and pointing to the sky in the tribute of his grandmother.
At the age of 6, he joined Newell's old boys. He stayed in that club for around 6 years and scored around 500 goals as a memeber of 'The machine 87'.
" When you saw him you would think this kid can't play ball. He's a dwarf,he's too fragile,too small. But immediately you'd realise that he is a phenomenon and that he was going to be something impressive"
. - Adrian Coria,Coach of Newell's boys shares his first impression on Messi.
He faced the biggest setback of his life when he was diagnosed with growth harmone deficiency. The growth harmone deficiency treatment would cost around $1000 per month,which his father's insurance could afford to help for two years. His then football club though agreed to contribute but later reneged on their promise. He was also scouted by River plate club but they were also not able to pay out his treatment cost due to country's economic collapse.
His ultimate football journey was started in September 2000,when his family arranged for a trial in the club FC Barcelona. The then first team director Charly Rexach wanted to sign him immediately but the board of directors hesitated. On 14th December, an ultimatum was issued for Barcelona to prove their commitment,and with no other options in hand,Messi was offered a contract paper on Napkin.
In February 2000,the family relocated to Barcelona,to an apartment near by Camp Nou stadium. Due to several problems he wasn't fielded much in his first year at his new club.Without football he struggled to integrate into the team. His nature was so quiet and calm that his teammates initially believed that he was mute. At home he suffered from homesickness after his mother moved back to Roasario in 2002 with his brothers and sister,Maria Sol, while he stayed there with his father.
In February 2002 at the age of 15 he started playing regularly after a nightmarish first season. Meanwhile he also completed his growth harmone treatment. In his first full season( 2002-2003) he was top scorer with 36 goals in 30 games for Cadetes A.
That year in Barcelona's Copa Catalunya victory Messi scored twice in 10 minutes after coming as substitution,with a broken cheekbone,which he had suffered a week before the final. At the end of the season he got his first offer from foreign club (Arsenal),but he chose to remain in Barcelona. Maybe he knew it was just a start of fulfilling his dream.