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Lionel Andrés "Leo" Messi (Spanish pronunciation: [ljoˈnel anˈdɾes ˈmesi] ( listen); born 24 June 1987) is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a forward for Spanish club FC Barcelona and captains the Argentina national team. Often considered the best player in the world and rated by many in the sport as the greatest of all time, Messi is the only football player in history to win five FIFA Ballons d'Or, four of which he won consecutively, and the first player to win three European Golden Shoes.[note 2] With Barcelona he has won eight La Liga titles and four UEFA Champions League titles, as well as four Copas del Rey. Both a prolific goalscorer and a creative playmaker, Messi holds the records for most goals scored in La Liga, a La Liga season (50), and a football season (82), as well as those for most assists made in La Liga and the Copa América. He has scored over 500 senior career goals for club and country.
Born and raised in central Argentina, Messi was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency as a child. At age 13, he relocated to Spain to join Barcelona, who agreed to pay for his medical treatment. After a fast progression through Barcelona's youth academy, Messi made his competitive debut aged 17 in October 2004. Despite being injury-prone during his early career, he established himself as an integral player for the club within the next three years, finishing 2007 as a finalist for both the Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year award, a feat he repeated the following year. His first uninterrupted campaign came in the 2008–09 season, during which he helped Barcelona achieve the first treble in Spanish football. At 22 years old, Messi won the Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year award by record voting margins.