Lionel Andrés Messi (born 24 June 1987) is an Argentine footballer who plays for La Liga club FC Barcelona and is the current captain of the Argentina national team, playing mainly as a forward. He is currently Barcelona's all-time top scorer in all official club competitions, excluding friendlies.
By the age of 21, Messi had received Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year nominations. The following year in 2009 he won both the Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year, and won the inaugural FIFA Ballon d'Or in 2010 and 2011. He also won the 2010–11 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award. Messi is the fourth football player to win three Ballons d'Or, after Johan Cruyff, Michel Platini and Marco van Basten and the second player to win three consecutive Ballons d'Or, after Michel Platini. His playing style and small stature have drawn comparisons to Diego Maradona, who himself declared Messi as his "successor".
Messi has won five La Ligas, two Copas del Rey, five Supercopas de España, three Champions Leagues, two Super Cups and two Club World Cups. In 2012, Messi made UEFA Champions League history by becoming the first player to score five goals in one match, in a 7–1 win against Bayer Leverkusen. With two goals in the next round against Milan, he matched José Altafini's record of 14 goals in a single Champions League season. He also became the first player to top-score in four successive Champions League campaigns. He set the world record for most goals scored in a season during the 2011–12 season, with 73 goals. In the same season, he set the current goalscoring record in a single La Liga season, scoring 50 goals.
Messi was the top scorer of the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship with six goals. In 2006, he became the youngest Argentine to play in the FIFA World Cup and he won a runners-up medal at the Copa América tournament the following year, in which he was elected young player of the tournament. In 2008, he won his first international honour, an Olympic gold medal, with the Argentina Olympic football team. Sportspro has rated Lionel Messi as the 3rd most
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Diego Armando Maradona (born 30 October 1960) is an Argentine football manager and former player. Many experts, football critics, former players, current players and football fans in general consider Maradona to be the greatest football player of all time. He won FIFA Player of the Century award which was to be decided by votes on their official website, their official magazine and a grand jury.
He is the only player in football history who set world-record contract fees twice. The first, when he was transferred to Barcelona for a then world record £5m and the second, when he was transferred to Napoli for another record fee £6.9m. Over the course of his professional club career Maradona played for Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla and Newell's Old Boys. In his international career, playing for Argentina, he earned 91 caps and scored 34 goals.
He played in four FIFA World Cup tournaments, including the 1986 tournament, where he captained Argentina and led them to their victory over West Germany in the final, winning the Golden Ball award as the tournament's best player. In that same tournament's quarterfinal round, he scored both goals in a 2–1 victory over England that entered football history, though for two different reasons. The first goal was via an unpenalized handball known as the "Hand of God", while the second goal followed a 60 m (66 yd) dribble past five England players, voted "The Goal of the Century" by FIFA.com voters in 2002.
Maradona is considered one of the sport's most controversial and newsworthy figures. He was suspended from football for 15 months in 1991 after failing a drug test, for cocaine, in Italy, and he was sent home from the 1994 World Cup in the USA after testing positive for ephedrine. After retiring from playing on his 37th birthday in 1997, he gained weight, suffered ill health and the effects of cocaine use. In 2005, a stomach stapling operation helped control his weight gain, and he overcame his cocaine addiction. His outspoken manners have sometimes put him at odds with journalists and sport executives. Although he had little managerial experience, he became head coach of the Argentina national team in November 2008, and held the job for eighteen months, until his contract expired after the 2010 World Cup.
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