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16.10.2009 17:50

Five years to the top

Roger BogunyÓ

Any young football players around the world can look to Lionel Messi as a role model. Just five years after his first team debut for FC Barcelona the forward is the star name in the best team on the planet.

Shortly before midnight on October 16, 2004 the Argentinian youngster stepped on to the pitch to taste the game at the highest level for the first time. He played for eight minutes on Montju´c in a game that saw Deco score the only goal in a 0-1 win against Espanyol.

The fifth youngest

Messi.jpgThat debut passed virtually unnoticed by the majority of the media the following day. Messi had made himself a small piece of history thiough as he became the third youngest player to play for Barša at 17 years, three months and 22 days, behind only Vicente MartÝnez, 16 years, ten month and five days, and Ramon Parera, 16 years, 11 months and 30 days. Since then Bojan Krkic and Marc Muniesa have moved ahead of Messi, who is now fifth.

Continuing to grow

qm3d7415.jpgIn his first couple of seasons with the first team squad Messi suffered several injuries. One of those prevented him from appearing in the Champions League final in Paris in 2006. But he did not stop improving and from his display at Stamford Bridge, a hat-trick against Real Madrid or his tremendous goal against Getafe in the Copa del Rey he has entertained and thrilled the football world despite still being in the shadow of Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto'o and Deco.

At international level he was also beginning to impress as he helped the Argentina Under-20 team win the World Championships in 2005 and then the gold medal at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.

Ten trophies

atm-fcb_x24x.jpgMessi has since produced some incredible runs, passes and goal and added more and more silverware to his haul. Before the treble winning year he had won five trophies, now he has won ten and is widely seen as the best player in the world at the moment.
Five years to the top
Games & Goals
2004/05: 9 games, 1 goal
2005/06: 25 games, 8 goals
2006/07: 36 games, 17 goals
2007/08: 40 games, 16 goals
2008/09: 51 games, 38 goals
2009/10: 9 games, 8 goals

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