Lionel Messi: Barcelona legend and a new beginning in Paris

‘Leo’ Messi is the most decorated football player of our time. With seven Ballon d’Or’s and six Golden Boots to his name, Messi is one of the best forwards on the planet. 

Messi left his home country of Argentina in 2001 for Barcelona. After his parents health insurance only covered two months of his treatment for a growth hormone deficiency, Messi searched for a trial at Barcelona and was a rare young foreign signing to the club. 

Now a part of the “Baby Dream Team”, Messi was already considered one of the greatest young players ever seen at Barcelona. At the close of the 2002/03 season, Arsenal offered to take on the young forward, but Messi remained loyal to Barcelona and stayed in Spain – where he would stay for the next 20 years. 

Who is Lionel Messi?

Lionel Andrés Messi is an Argentinian football player currently at Paris Saint-Germain. But Messi is perhaps best known for his 20-year commitment to Barcelona. 

Born on 24th June 1987, Lionel ‘Leo’ Messi was a wunderkid from the start. Starting off by playing at Newell’s Old Boys aged just six, Messi was one of the key ingredients in the youth sides’ winning streak – he was even dubbed “The Machine of ’87”. When he was 10, Messi’s future was jeopardised when he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency, the Messi family moved to Spain support Leo’s footballing career and try to secure him a trial at Barcelona. 

When Messi trialed for Barcelona in 2000, the team signed him almost immediately – not having paper to hand, Rexach (first team director at the time) offered a contract on a paper napkin. By February 2002, Messi was playing in all competitions for Barcelona and was a the top goalscorer for the side with 36 goals in 30 games. After his season ended, Messi was offered a contract with Arsenal, which he turned down.

This would be the start of a 20-year relationship between Barcelona and Messi. By 2005, Messi was a starting eleven player and became indispensable quickly after. 

In 2020, Messi made it clear that he was unhappy at Barcelona. Knowing that Messi was looking for a new team, French side Paris Saint-Germain offered him a two-year contract. After his move to PSG, Messi received his record seventh Ballon d’Or. 

Messi also has a family outside of his team, with three sons and his partner, Messi has set up the Lionel Messi Foundation. The foundation supports children to get access to health care, education and sport and Messi himself has donated over one million euros to coronavirus research and has participated in activism to vaccinate all South American footballers to encourage uptake of the vaccine. Messi has also been a UNICEF donator since 2004 and in 2010, he was named as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

What shirt number does Messi wear? 

When Messi debuted in the senior Barcelona team, he came out the tunnel sporting the number 30 shirt. But after two seasons, Messi switched number 19 and kept that number for two more seasons whilst Brazilian player Ronaldinho occupied the number 10 jersey for the side.

Upon Ronaldinho’s move to AC Milan in 2008, Messi took up the mantle of wearing number 10 for Barcelona – and it stayed that way for the next 13 seasons. 

There was much speculation about whether Brazilian forward and new teammate Neymar would give up the number 10 shirt at Paris Saint-Germain when Messi moved in 2021, but it wasn’t to be. Even though Neymar reportedly offered Messi his number 10 spot, Messi took the number 30, just as he had on his debut for Barcelona years before. 

The best shirt designs worn by Messi 

Of course, along with the numbers go the shirts themselves. Every time Messi switches shirts it immediately becomes one of the most spotted jerseys around, whether people support Barca or not. 

In the 2013/14 season, Messi wore one of the strongest Barcelona shirt designs in years. The retro Barcelona kit featured the well-known Barca stripes in black and red, as well as yellow highlights to bring out a pop of colour.

Messi sported number 10 again in the 2018/19 season. The highlighter yellow away shirt kept it bright but simple. The Nike design makes sure that you know which team you’re cheering on because there’s no way you’d miss this shirt on the pitch.

As for now, Messi is on the pitch wearing a whole new kit. Now that Messi has joined Paris Saint-Germain, he has been proudly wearing the number 30 in the blue pin stripe that is instantly recognisable to any football fan. 

Lionel Messi: A timeline 

To keep things simple, here’s a timeline of Lionel Messi’s footballing career so far:

24th June 1987 – Lionel Andrés Messi is born in Rosario, Argentina

2000 – Moved to Spain to join Barcelona

2004 – Barcelona club debut at age 17

2005 – Messi signs his first contract as a senior team player

2007 – Set up the Lionel Messi Foundation

2007/08 – Plagued by injuries throughout the season

2009 – Wins his first Ballon d’Or

2010 – Wins his second Ballon d’Or

2011 – Wins his third Ballon d’Or

2012 – Wins his fourth Ballon d’Or

2015 – Wins his fifth Ballon d’Or

2019 – Wins his sixth Ballon d’Or

2020 – Messi expresses his desire to leave Barcelona

2021 – Messi leaves Barcelona and signs a two-year deal at Paris Saint-Germain and wins his seventh Ballon d’Or

What’s new with Messi? 

After joining Paris Saint-Germain on a two-year contract, Messi’s future lies in France for now. On 21st June 2021, Messi met the record for the most appearances in an Argentina shirt, capping at 147 matches and at the next appearance, he broke it.

Messi has broken records since the beginning of his career and there’s no doubt he will continue to. It’s undeniable that there’s something special about Leo Messi and going through the annals of football history to explore some retro football shirts can prove exactly how unique ‘La Pulga’ is.

For all your retro football shirt needs, have a look at our store, which includes many of Messi's football shirts