Leo Messi is currently regarded as the greatest footballer in the world and many believe he is already challenging Maradona and Pele for the title of greatest footballer of all time.
He has won five Ballon D'Ors, on par with Cristiano Ronaldo. In 2012 Messi had an incredible season, in which he scored a world record 91 goals in a calendar year.
He is Barcelona's top scorer of all time, having passed the official mark of 232 goals, set by Cesar Rodriguez in the 1940s and 50s. In 2011-12 he also broke the record for goals scored in a top-flight European season as he took his tally to 68 with the ninth hat-trick of his campaign in a 4-1 win over Malaga.
He has won nine La Liga titles with Barcelona and four Champions League medals, and has been the club's star player as they became arguably the best club side ever, and certainly the most attractive to watch.
Lionel Andres Messi was born on June 24, 1987, in Rosario, Argentina. His talent was quickly spotted and he left South America for Barcelona in 2000. He flourished in Barcelona's youth system, learning his trade alongside players such as Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique.
In his debut season in the first team Barca won a League and Champions League double, although Messi didn't feature in the final. It was the following year that Leo really established himself at the Nou Camp. He scored a hat-trick against Real Madrid, instantly endearing himself to the Barca faithful, and finished with 14 goals from 26 games.
From then his stats make breathtaking reading; the following year he struck 38 goals as Barca won a treble, the year after he notched a record-equalling 47 goals, only to eclipse it a year later with 53 strikes in all competitions.
The 53rd goal gave Barca the fourth Champions League victory in their history, as they imperiously swept aside Manchester United 3-1 at Wembley in one of the greatest club performances ever. But it was his goal in the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals that lives longer in the memory. Madrid had stifled the game with negative tactics and after breaching their defence a first time, he wrapped the game up with a silky dribble that left Jose Mourinho's superbly marshalled defenders trailing in his wake.
Leo has also represented Argentina with distinction. He made his debut in 2005, aged only 18, but it wasn't until March 2009 when he inherited the famous and iconic number 10 shirt. Appropriately, it was then manager Diego Maradona who handed him the shirt in his first match as manager.
Initially burdened by the tag of being the "New Maradona", Leo is now rightly viewed as the one and only Messi.