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16.10.2007 11:05

Meteoric rise in three years

Berta Brau

Leo Messi has shot to fame in a remarkably short period of time. In 1095 days, or three years, since he debuted with the first team, the Argentinian has consolidated his position and is now one of the hottest tips for the Balon d’Or.

It is now three years since Messi made his debut with the Barça first team. That was on October 16, 2004, at Montjuïc, his first game under Rijkaard’s orders. He was aged just 17 years, 3 months and 22 days, and that made him the youngest player ever to play an official match in a Barça shirt.

Debut in the derby

Ever since he arrived in Barcelona, Leo Messi demonstrated the kind of qualities that would eventually lead him to become one of the best players in the world and become a firm candidate to win this year’s Balon d’Or.

He is a fast, daring and efficient player, and that is what caught Rijkaard’s eye when, with several first team players out through injury, he looked to the B team for reinforcements. Messi’s first game was against Espanyol in a tightly matched derby encounter decided by a Deco goal in the 82nd minute.

From Barça B to the first team

01-05-05_Web_Messi_01.jpgLeo Messi went on to play 7 games for the first team that season, and his first goal came against Albacete at the Camp Nou. That made him the youngest player ever to score for FC Barcelona, and in the 2004-05 season, the young striker also got his first run out in the Champions League.

web_1.jpgHe became a full member of the first team in the 2005-2006 season, playing 17 league matches and scoring 6 goals, as well as 6 Champions League, including one against Panathinaikos when he scored his first goal in European football.

And what a debut season it was for Leo Messi, what with the conquest of the League and Champions League double.

Consecrated as a footballer

qm3d7415.jpgLast season he became a fully established member of the starting eleven, although he was sidelined through injury for 3 unfortunate months. He started 26 league matches, scoring 14 goals, and made 5 Champions League appearances, scoring one goal. He impressed so much that he was also called up for international duty, and although he was controversially kept on the bench for most of the 2006 World Cup, he has since gone on to become a regular feature of the Argentina national side.
Meteoric rise in three years
Candidate for Balon d’Or
It is this, his third season for Barça, that is proving to be his finest yet. He is the top scorer in the Liga and second top scorer in the Champions League, and is being cited as a potential winner of the coveted Balon d’Or. He will be up against the likes of Kaká, Ronaldinho and Cristiano Ronaldo in the voting for FIFA World Player. For a player of just 20 years and with so many years ahead of him, that is quite a remarkable achievement.

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