Cover MILAN, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 23: The Best FIFA Men’s Player Award finalist Lionel Messi of Barcelona and Argentina poses for a portrait ahead of The Best FIFA Football Awards 2019 at Excelsior Hotel Gallia on September 23, 2019 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

What were some of Lionel Messi's most defining moments with FC Barcelona?

After 21 fruitful years with FC Barcelona, Lionel Messi has dropped a piece of news that left his loyal supporters in shock—the team’s most lucrative player is leaving with a possible move to French club Paris St Germain.

In a press conference over the weekend, a tearful Messi announced that he was leaving the Spanish league after the former said it could no longer afford to pay his high wages. 

Messi said that he is prepared to shoulder 50 per cent of the wage in order to stay and sign a new contract, but was unable to finalise the deal due to the club's huge debts. “We had everything agreed, but at the last minute, it couldn’t happen; this year, I wanted to stay and I couldn’t,” the player said.

For many fans, Messi is a football icon whose legacy under Barcelona cannot be forgotten. In this article, Tatler writes some of the most unforgettable feats and facts about the player. 

1. Messi dedicates his wins to his late grandmother

Messi dedicates all his 671 goals to Celia Oliveira Cuccittini, his late grandmother. If you’re a big Barcelona fan, you may have noticed that every time the player scores, his arms and eyes automatically point up to the sky.

Cuccittini, who played a big role in Messi’s sports career, died in 1998 when the latter was just 11 years old. According to the superstar, it was his grandmother who urged him to play.

“I was small, we would all go to the neighbourhood club to where the whole family always went; my brother and cousins would all play, each in their respective category as we were all of different ages,” Messi shared. “I was one of the youngest ones and therefore there were no categories for me yet, but one of them was missing a player and so my grandmother told the manager ‘to let me play’,” he added.

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2. FC Barcelona hired Messi by writing his contract on a napkin

In 2000, FC Barcelona scout Charles Rexach flew to Rosario, Argentina, just so he could watch the 12-year-old Messi play football. The executive, who himself played for Barca between 1966-8, said that it took only a matter of minutes to know “he’d seen someone special”.

Upon seeing Messi pick the ball, carry it, and score, Rexach took matters into his own hands and let the young player sign on a napkin paper before he was taken by somebody else. “Once in Barcelona, I decided to sign him on a paper napkin that a waiter gave me because I couldn’t let him get away.” 

3. The media has developed a unique nickname for him

Because of his feats in football, the Spanish media has given Messi a fitting nickname: "Messiah”. 

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4. He holds a Guinness World Record

In case you missed it, Messi holds a total of six Guinness World Records: the record for the most appearances on a video game cover by a soccer player, the youngest player to score 50 goals in the Champions League, the highest-paid footballer in the world, the record for a foreign player with most appearances in LaLiga, the record for most goals scored by a substitute in a Copa America Match, and lastly, the record for a player with the most goals in a UEFA Champions League Match.

5. He holds six Golden Balls

In a span of 10 years, Messi has already bagged six Golden balls (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019), six Golden Boots (2010, 2012, 2013, 2017, 2018, 2019) and The Best award in 2019, among others. 

Introduced in the 1982 FIFA World Cup, the Golden Ball is an award given to the best player at each FIFA World Cup finals; players who finish as runners-up receive Silver Ball and Bronze Ball awards.

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