From Carlos Gardel and Eva Peron to Maradona and Lionel Messi
"He (Lionel Messi) is the best player in the world by some distance", Arsne Wenger, the coach of the FC Arsenal, has proclaimed of the five-foot-eight-inch tall, Argentine-born football star, "He's ( like) a PlayStation. He can take advantage of every mistake we make ".
As elsewhere in Latin America, much of Argentina's sporting history has been dominated by football — known simply as soccer in the States– since the 1920s. After Argentina's military strongman Jorge Rafael Videla Redondo, a hated tyrant, declared top priority to win the FIFA Global Cup in the late 1970s, the nation's footballers invaded the world with a host of global awards and trophies. On June 25, 1978, Mario Kempes and his fellow players lifted the winner's Cup on home soil upon scoring an overwhelming win against a Peruvian team led by an Argentine-born goalkeeper (6-0) in the semis. Within a year, in Japan's capital city of Tokyo, the South American contingent, spearheaded by Diego Armando Maradona, was regarded as the best junior team on the Planet at the expense of the former Soviet Union / USSR. Shortly thereafter, Argentina was one of the "huge favorites" in the men's football tournament prior to joining the US-led boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games. Three years on, its national side came close to winning the IV Junior Global Championship.
On June 29, 1986, Los Celestes, as the national squad is known around the globe, placed first in the FIFA Cup in the United Mexican States; One of the most memorable matches ever seen in World Cup history was played there as Argentina beat England – Maradona and his team-mates tried to win on the field what their countrymen had lost in the 1982 Anglo-Argentine Falklands War. Already, in 1990, once again Maradona put Argentina in the final of the FIFA Cup on Italian soil. In the space of six years, from 1995 through 2005, the national contingent was four-time winner of the Under-20 World tournament. It was around this time that name Messi appeared on the scene.
Argentine-born Messi, who is dubbed "the Flea", is a strong and powerful forward who plays both in FC Barcelona (since 2003) and Argentina's national squad (2006) .Curiously, he has spent his entire career in Spanish club (nearly 10 years), working in a variety of teams (Under-15, U-17, U-19, as well as other squads). Messi has become almost indispensable to his club (known popularly as "Barca") – he is the backbone of Barcelona's 4-3-3 formation. Nevertheless, he loves to play football with the Argentine side, having refused to be a member of the Spanish national team despite his strong links to European nation. As well as being an Argentine-born person, Messi, of Italian background, is a Spaniard citizen since the mid-2000s. From 2005 through 2011, Messi collected over seventy individual awards. Indeed, his success as a sportsman is largely due to his persistence and hard discipline. According to Paris-based magazine France Football, Messi is the world's top paid footballer. Besides all that, the center forward — a soccer gold medalist in the 2008 Olympics– has gained international stature as a champion for the rights of children.
Although Lionel Andres Messi, known occasionally as "the ghost center forward", is considered one of the greatest soccer players to have never won a FIFA World Cup (together with Ferenc Puskas from Hungary and Liberia's George Weah), he is already one of the male athletes most famous on the global sporting map. In the Western Hemisphere, Messi, who is often compared to Maradona, has inspired thousands of young would-be footballers to follow their dreams, especially in poverty-stricken regions. But not only that, because of him more people know about Argentina –which has a long-standing history of man-made disasters — than ever before. On his home soil, his status is only comparable to three national celebrities: Argentina's postwar First Lady Eva Perón -made famous by Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Evita — Maradona, and Carlos Gardel, nicknamed the "songbird of Buenos Aires" and who helped popularize tango around the world.
Lionel Messi: A Rough Diamond
Lionel Messi's life changed forever when he was plucked out of the Spanish-speaking republic of Argentina by a talent scout to play for Barca, which is often referred to as one of the top clubs around the globe- it holds hundreds of millions of soccer fans outside its own borders, from Bangladesh and Guinea-Bissau to San Marino and the Feroe islands.
You can not become a top sportsman (woman) if you do not achieve notable results, if you are not a hard worker, and before all, if you are not able to overcome the obstacles in your life. In fact, Lionel Messi knows firsthand about this. Like his fellow Argentine Maradona, Messi is small – who stands 5 feet 8 inches tall – for the position of forward, but he overcame this with a prodigious ability and exceptional intelligence on the filed, earning the nickname "Flea". Over his athletic career, he also has defeated other hurdles: numerous injuries, especially during Rikjaard's direction. Throughout his years as a boy, his country underwent one of the deepest recessions in the Americas. But this was not all. Because of an illness, he almost gave up the sport. By 2008, there were troubles to send Messi to the Summer Games due to his dual citizenship and status as a professional footballer in Barcelona. Against club wishes, however, Messi, the greatest professional footballer of all time, arrived at Beijing with the Argentine squad (as a defending champion). In the Olympic arena, soon afterwards, he and his colleagues were champions, making history in the People's Republic of China. Currently, Barcelona will not sell Messi for anything in the world.
Messi bases his success on being able to offer a play based on passion, determination, hard discipline, and an exceptional ability. No player can ever be categorized as invincible in football world, but Messi is probably the most talented man ever to carry a ball. In all his matches, Messi plays as if were a game for the FIFA World Championship.
Rosario: The Birth Of A Footballer
Born in the Argentinian city of Rosario (Santa Fe Province), on June 24 1987 – a year after his country captured the FIFA World Tournament in the Mexican metropolis — Messi is one of the fourth children born to Jorge Horacio Messi and his wife , the former Celia Mara Cucittini. Curiously, he is one of the four most prominent individuals from Rosario, alongside Libertad Lamarque (performer), Valeria Mazza (supermodel), and César Luis Menotti (football coach).
His father had been a factory steel worker. In fact, Messi inherited his football genes from his father, who was coach during a brief period. Meanwhile, Messi's mother is an admirer of notable people and wanted his children to have famous names. Celia Mara named his son Lionel after her favorite idol Lionel Richie, a Grammy-winning singer / songwriter whose pop chart-topping hits in the 1980s included "Truly", "You Are", and "All Night Long".
Like most of Argentina's sportsmen as Octavio Dazzan (cycling), David Nalbandian (tennis), and Manu Ginibili (basketball), Lionel reflects the Italian roots of his motherland. His father's family is from Italy's city of Ancona who came to the Latin American place during a large-scale European immigration at the turn of the 19th century. This Spanish-trained professional footballer, the high-scoring forward of Barcelona, has two brothers, Rodrigo and Matas, and a sister, Maria Sol. On the other hand, his cousins Maximiliano and Emmanuel Biancucchi are also soccer players.
His sporting life goes back to times when Messi grew up playing football in Rosario, a land famous for their athletic passion and hosted the World Championships for both professional and amateurs, including the Men's Football World Cup (1978) and Men's Volleyball Global Tournament (1982 ); Messi can take credit for that because he has been named official Ambassador for Rosario's 2019 Pan American bid. Under this Olympic atmosphere, Jorge Horacio Messi made no secret of his ambitions for his son.
Like several Latino champs –among them Edwin Vásquez Cam (shooting) and Nancy López (golf) – Messi was introduced to sport by his father. Before joining the Newell's Old Boy's youth side, Lionel -when he was only 5 years old — played in the local team of Grandioli, where his father was coach. On that occasion, the smaller Lionel was a goalie on the football team. At the time, he had a lot of athletic skills, but not the technical skills. Shortly after, while Lionel demonstrated his talent in the under-10 competitions in his homeland and abroad in the middle of the 1990s, the Argentine boy, at the age of 11, was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. Since then, prior to begin an athletic career as a junior player in the following years, he had to beat back an illness, whose treatment cost $ 900 a month. But in spite of this problem, his enthusiasm for football was unbelievable.
A Golden Opportunity
Recognizing Messi's precocious talent, Carles Rexach, a sports administrator, promised him that FC Barcelona would pay his treatment if he decideto play for the famous club.The answer was "yes", of course. As a consequence of this, Messi and his parents moved permanently to Barcelonese soil, a football-mad place. On that occasion, the youngster was sad to leave his home city. However, the Spaniard place had a special significance to Messi: There, on May 3, 1980, his fellow Argentine Maradona signed a six-year contract with the traditional side.
The travel proved to be a turning point in his life. In the capital and largest city of Spain's Catalan region — one of Europe's first class cities — Messi received a scholarship to play football in Barca's athletic academy, alongside Xabi Alonso, Gerard Piqu, Andrs Iniesta and other boys. The Club's Youth Academy (one of Western Europe's major sports academies), was set up with one primary goal in mind: Scans up to 300 young talents and transform some of them into champions. The youth squads have always preoccupied Barcelona's sports leaders. In recent decades, the Spaniard club sent scouts to Latin America looking for promising youth athletes.
As well as being the nation's second largest city behind Madrid, Barcelona is a place that is tied closely to the Olympic Movement, physical activity and all of the values that sport represent in the 21st Century. This corner of the planet, host to the 1992 Summer Olympic Games, is an international grandstand with recreational spaces, sports academies, and state-of-the-art Olympian facilities on a par with other sporting cities such as London (UK), Singapore City, Doha (Qatar), Montreal (Canada), Dubai (United Arab Emirates), and Los Angeles (CA). Additionally, it was home of Mr. Juan Antonio Samaranch, former Chairman of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and among the world's most gifted and influential sports administrators.
During a breakout year, after overcoming his illness, Messi, who was about four-foot-seven-inch tall, become one of Barca's top male players in the Boys' Division of the Spanish Football Championships. There, he had been outstanding throughout the event, scoring over 35 goals and setting numerous records for his age group. A couple of years later, under the aegis of Spain's Club, Messi improved rapidly his play and was promoted to the junior team's starting lineup, competing in the under-19 tournaments.
Encouraged by Frank Rijkaard
As a young teen, he got the first opportunity to used his talent as a member of Barca's official contingent when he made his first appearance in the friendly against Porto on November 16, 2003. Following his initial impact, scoring 22 goals in the junior competitions , the up-and-coming Messi, by late 2003, was moved up to the reserves of the club: The squad "C", prior to winning the right to play for Barcelona B side, a second division club. Messi, as a young athlete, acquired enough expertise to participate in senior soccer events, face-to-face with finest professional players from Europe and abroad. It was an excellent school for him, of course.
After watching his athletic performance in the traditional junior contests on Spaniard soil, Frank Rijkaard, Barca's major coach at the time, put his eyes on Messi –perhaps his most famous pupil – and did not doubt that he would be the next greatest footballer on the Planet — Perhaps a Maradona. Nonetheless, the high-flying coach was not the first to be excited by the potential of Messi. On the other hand, Rijkaard backed up a number of young players, including Carles Puyol and Vctor Valds.
At the age of 17, Messi had a chance to show his athletic potential. Fortunately, he did not disappoint to Barca's sports officials and soccer fans when he entered the highest level in Spanish championship, by passing many senior footballers and becoming the youngest player in the domestic soccer league. It was one of the greatest moments of Messi's life on the soccer field.
Encouraged by his coach, Frank Rijkaard, Messi, months later, made his mark with the club by scoring his first senior goal against Albacete Balompi, becoming the youngest footballer from Barcelona to ever score in the domestic football league, among the world's most competitive sports tournaments. By any standards it is a phenomenal achievement. In fact, Rijkaard made him the focus of the team's new offfensive scheme. Later on, Messi spoke with gratitude about Rijkaard, "I will never forget the fact that he launched my career, that he had confidence in me while I was only sixteen or seventeen". Without a doubt, he was considered one of the great prospects of the world football.
A Champion In the Netherlands
By the mid-2000s, Messi brought home his country's fifth junior global title, considered a huge success in the South American republic; It was a history-making day for the Argentinean Football Association (AFA). Messi began his work with his homeland when Argentina's sports officials called on him to join the 2005 junior World Cup team. Always a heavy favorite with the Dutch fans, the national side, sparked by Messi, came first in the global contest in front of the Amsterdam (Netherlands' capital) crowd, an international sporting platform to numerous unknown footballers. Thereupon, Messi collected two special awards in Holland: The Golden Ball and the Golden Shoe.
Futbol Club Barcelona: 2005- 2006 Season
The breakthrough season for the team and Messi came in 2005-06. Three of Barcelona's Spanish titles can be attributed to Messi: Domestic League, Cataluña Cup, and Spanish Supercup — beginning a new period of success for Spain's most popular club and topping the TV sports rankings in the European nation. On that occasion, Messi also amassed three individual trophies.
On September 27, 2005, before a crowd of several fans and spectators at Barcelona's Nou Camp Stadium (among the world's major football stadia), star youngster Messi made his debut as a local player in the European League Championship (against Italy's Udinese). He competed with Barca until his injury, six months later. In spite of playing without Messi, however, the club earned the famous Champions League, one of the four big international events on Earth, along with the Olympic Games (Winter and Summer), and the FIFA World Cup.
In the same year, the prolific scorer Messi was named as Europe's best young player by Tuttosport (a magazine from Italy), gaining the Golden Boy Trophy, by passing several sportsmen such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney.
Curiously, Spain is home of one of the world's largest populations of foreign-born athletes (along with France, Canada and the oil-rich Kingdom of Qatar) such as Eulogio Martínez (Paraguay, football), Nina Zhivanevskaya (Russia, swimming), Juan Domingo de la Cruz (Argentina, basketball), Glory Alozie (athletics, Nigeria), and Juan Pérez (Cuba, waterpolo). By the end of 2005, Messi was one of the last athletes to become a Spanish citizen (dual citizenship), making him eligible to play as a Spanish player in the National League.
FIFA 2006 World Cup
Historically, Argentina has the honor of being the third Third World country to capture the global contest after Uruguay (1930 & 1950) and Brazil (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002). Due to this tradition and thanks to its world-beating players on European soil, the Argentine football squad had become one of the top favorites to gain the 2006 FIFA Cup, but they finished sixth overall (ahead of three Europeans squads: England, Ukraine and spain), after losing to host Germany in the quarterfinals. Immediately, Argentina's soccer fans blamed José Pekerman, national coach, for the defeat against Germany. Post why? Incredibly, Messi was excluded to play that game.
Certainly, Messi had dissapointed 2006. Although, he made his long-awaited debut in the World Cup as he led Argentina -two-time winner of the men's football World Cup (1978 & 1986) – to win its first points following a triumph over Serbia-Montenegro (former Yugoslavia). In Germany, he played three of Argentina's five football matches.
During the 2006 World Cup, Messi became Argentina's most youngest footballer to attend the FIFA Cup. The following year, Messi and his fellow Argentine players finished as runner-ups to Brazil in the 2007 America's Cup on Venezuelan soil.
Spain's 'Football War'
Throghout his 2006-07 season, Messi had become a regular player in his European squad, competing on equal terms with senior players and attracting huge numbers of interested fans. It was truly an inspiring moment. However, he withdrew from the Spaniard Football League due to an injury (a game against Real Zaragosa).
With better health and upon spending three months on South American soil, Messi went back to Spain, playing in the match between Barcelona and Racing de Santander. Soon after, he made a hat-trick when his club drawn 3-3 with Real Madrid, a match between the two most popular teams in Spain (better known as "The Clasico"). Since decades ago, these matches have been labelled the "Spain's Football War", attracting the largest average audience in the European country and numerous regions around the world, especially in soccer nations. In fact, it is a battle which is being won by Barca's team in recent years.
Messi's Hand of God Goal
As he entered his 20s, by 2007, he picked up a total of 14 individual trophies inside and outside Spain, a new personal record over his professional career. But this was not all. Evoking the style of Argentina's former star Maradona, Messi, was dubbed "Messidona" in the course of an impressive career as a sportsman.
During a never-to-be-forgotten game, on April 18, 2007, the Barcelonese club got two goals from Messi to defeat Getafe CF in the semis of the Copa del Rey; one goal inspired comparisons to Diego Maradona's 'Hand of God' goal against England's squad at the 1986 Mexico City World Tournament — it appeared that Messi may have knocked the ball into the net with his fist. In fact, this was great news both for Barcelona and the whole country. Nobody could imagine this feat. His fellow player Deco said, "It was the best goal I have ever seen in my life".
Over the course of the season, Messi was in the spotlight as he was regarded as the world's top footballer by experts, sportswriters, coaches, players, and sports administrators. Meanwhile, Messi was elected as one of the 14th Best Male Athletes in 2007 by a total of 422 AIPS (International Sports Press Association) members from 94 countries – ahead of South Africa's rugby star Bryan Habana and Rafael Nadal, a tennis player from Spain .
After making a record in soccer world — scored five goals over a span of seven days– Messi helped Barcelona to become one of the four leaders in the first class Spaniard championship. He was the answer to their lack of versatility in attacking positions. In fact, he sees Barcelona through the eyes of a lover. Additionally, he scored also two goals in the UEFA Champions League. In beginning 2008, Messi celebrated his 100th match.
In March, the star athlete was forced to drop out of the Champions League because of an injury. Following over a month, he returned to the line-up, competing with Cristiano Ronaldo, considered among the globe's finest footballers. Under Messi's guidance, however, the Barcelonese club was eliminated from the European championship, showing the effects of his injury. Certainly, Messi had not a strong performance in this season, winning only two unofficial events (Beckenbauer Cup in Germany and Joan Gamper Trophy). In July of that year, on the other hand, Messi was appointed as the captain for the first time in a friendly match against Scotland's Dundee United.
Subsequently, the Barcelonese soccer club paid tribute to Messi's perseverance: Wearing the shirt number ten for the first time (historically given to the leading scorer), the number worn by former stars such as Romario Souza of Brazil, Hugo Sotil of Peru and Maradona, messi began a new period in Barca, few weeks prior to 2008 the Summer Games.
Messi At the 2008 Beijing Olympics
Argentina earned its first soccer medal in the 1928 Amsterdam Games, after falling to Uruguay's side in the gold-medal match. Then, the national contingent was asked to replace Uruguay in the 1976 Montreal Games, but it did not accept.
During the Centennial Games in the States, on August 3, 1996, the Argentine team was runner-up to Nigeria (sub-Saharan Africa) -matched its performance in the 1920s. In the 26th Olympiad, the silver medalists were Roberto Ayala, José Chamot, Javier Zanetti, Roberto Sensini and Diego Pablo Simeone, Ariel Ortega, Hernan Crespo, and Claudio López, among others footballers. Over the next years, by 2004, the Spanish-speaking republic placed first in the Athens XXVIII Summer Games upon their victory over Paraguay, a feat never before accomplished by a male squad from Argentina in the men's soccer Olympic Cup.
Messi was Latin America's top hope for a medal in the 2008 Olympiad. Nonetheless, there were troubles to send Messi to Beijing: his club did not approve his Olympic participation. After a long-running conflict between the Spaniard club and AFA (Argentinean Football Association), Messi was eligible to represent his nation in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where he won his second major global event following a convincing triumph over Nigeria, one of the most extraordinary results in the history of the Olympic Championship. It was interesting to note that Messi was a great Olympian champ in the People's Republic of China (PRC).
Unlike Pele (Edson Arantes do Nascimento) -a long-standing senior player from Brazil– and Maradona, Messi has won an Olympic gold medal after Argentina defeated six countries in the men's Olympian football championship in the Games of 29th Olympiad in mainland China, becoming the first world-class soccer player to win a trophy in the Modern Olympics since the early 1950s when Ferenc Puskas took the Hungarian team to its first Olympian title in the Finland Summer Games.
The Soccer Tournment included some strong names such as Brazil, Belgium, Holland, and Cote d'Ivoire.There, this Spanish-trained professional player also helped Argentina to win their second straight Olympic title; the nation's fourth Olympian medal in men's football. As well as earning the gold in the People's Republic, Messi was regarded as one of Latin America's foremost Olympic athletes. Nonetheless, his trophy was overshadowed by the wins of Michael Phelps, Usain Powell of Jamaica (3-time Olympic gold medalist) and other champions.
After being part of the Olympic gold-winning squad in 2008, Messi won the world's best footballer by FIFA (the world's governing body of soccer).
In beginning 2009, Barcelona's 2-1 win over Racing de Santander was one of Messi's most notable matches, scoring both goals in the last 45 minutes. Messi entered the match when its club was defeated (0-1), but he confirmed his international status when he was able to break down a Santander defense. During the game, Spain's team made its 5,000 goal with Messi.
After making worldwide headlines on Spaniard soil, he was a key player when his club had a convincing 6-2 win over Real Madrid at Santiago de Bernabu Stadium in Spain's capital city — Without a doubt, one of the greatest games of Messi's athletic career. As has traditionally been the case, this a match attracted several neutral fans across the globe. Messi's other important achievement was when Barcelona's side finished first in the unofficial event Joan Gamper Trophy for the third time in a row. In 2008, he came away with 10 individual awards.
His Play Speaks For Itself
By the time the 2009-10 season, Messi brought about a sporting revolution at Barcelona. Astonishingly, his side won all the championships. For these wins, some experts and sportswriters believe he is better than Maradona and Pele.
Upon claiming five prestigious competitions — the Champions League, the UEFA Supercup, the Spanish Cup (Copa del Rey), the National League, and the Spanish Supercup — Messi was able to lead Barcelona side to victory in the FIFA Club World cup in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the turn of the 2009, becoming Spain's most popular person and making Barcelona one of the world's most successful clubs in football history. Apart from winning these events, he collected over 15 individual awards in the Americas, Persian Gulf, and Western Europe: World Football of the Year, Alfredo Di Stefano Trophy, World Selection, Best Player in the Club World Cup, and Champions Trophy, among other trophies.
In April 2010, one of the most interesting statistics came from Messi when he became Barcelona's first footballer to score four goals in the Champions League-all against Arsenal FC Likewise, he made a name for himself in soccer world as he was Barcelona's top scorer in the Champions League (twenty-five goals). Later on, Messi helped the club to capture the Spanish league, as well as winning two special trophies as the Best Player.
Spain: The Best Domestic Football
Not all of Messi's play was acclaimed in 2010. Despite the optimism following Messi's strong performance in Western Europe, Argentine side was eliminated by Germany (0-4), allowing it to secure a top five position in the FIFA Global Tournament; one of Messi's most disapponting results in this period.
The men's football team of Argentina departed for Africa in the quest of their third Global Cup. From the beginning, Los Celestes entered the 2010 South Africa World Cup as a front-runner to win the title. Prior to being eliminated in the quaterfinals, the South American nation had four wins: Nigeria (1-0), South Korea (4-1), Greece (2-0), and Mexico (3-1). Ironically, the Spanish national team won the Global Cup for the first time.
Although one of the most prominent sportsmen in this Century, Messi has not won a World Cup (2006 & 2010). In sub-Saharan Africa, his production was poor: He did not score a single goal. Up to now, his results pale in comparison with Maradona and Pele.
In September 2010, Messi's play captivated the audience, from experts and sportswriters to fans, setting new Spanish and European records. For the third consecutive time, the star player became top scorer in the Champions League. It was unbelievable. In the whole event, the sport's greatest footballer was a "perfect machinery". Spearheaded by its idol Messi, the Barcelonese club amassed two tournaments – The national tournament and then Champions League for the second successive year, sparking off celebrations in the Spaniard city of Barcelona. In the meantime, he gained the FIFA Ballon d 'Or. These wins have helped construct an excellent relationship between Messi and his fans inside and outside Spain. In his native country, however, there is another atmosphere.
Argentina's side was upset by Brazil in the finals of the 2007 South American Cup (there Messi appeared in all six of his nation's games). Four years later, the traditional event was held in Argentina. There, the host nation entered the regional contest, but it did not even make the semis. On the eve of that event, Argentina was a gold-medal contender well ahead of Brazil and Uruguay.
Unfortunately, Messi could not do anything. In spite of his extraordinary achievements in Western Europe, the amazing Latino player was unable to lead the Argentine side to win the Copa America for the second time, being strongly criticized by Argentina's football fans.
The local squad had two draws with Bolivia (1-1) and Colombia (0-0) before defeating Costa Rica (3-0) and falling to eventual champion Uruguay (4-5) in the quarter-finals. In his own land, Messi did not score a single goal (except on a penalty) over the course of the Latin American championship. Undeterred, he departed for Spain.
Undoubtedly, some soccer fans do not understand why Argentina's national team can not win international tournaments with the world's most prominent soccer player.
Spearheaded by Messi, the Barcelonese club captured the Spanish Supercup on in August 2011. With 8 goals, Messi was the top scorer in the national contest, ahead of Raúl González Blanco. Within a few weeks, they also won the European Supercup. On December 18, 2011, Barcelona won the Club World Cup by beating Brazil's Santos (4-0). There, Messi was the tournament's most valuable athlete. Astonishingly, Messi became the top scorer (236 goals) in Barca's history on March 31, 2012.
An Advocate for the Rights of Children
Latin America's remarkable football player Messi is regarded as Argentina's long-standing advocate for the rights of poor children. By 2007, he created a self-named foundation, whose principal aim is to improve education and health care of the future generation of Argentina's boys and girls. Recently named UN Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Messi works closely with the international organization, increasing global awareness and providing financial aid to programs for children and mothers on Earth.