For Barcelona and Argentina's Leo Messi, life at the pinnacle of his profession is becoming routine. Winner of the Ballon d'Or for the third year in a row, there is no questioning his status as the world's best player. The 24-year-old has signed exclusively for Icons since 2006, and our relationship has gone from strength to strength ever since. The world's best player and the home of signed football memorabilia. It makes for a dream partnership.
We first met with Leo Messi as an 18-year-old on May 5th, 2006. The little Argentinian made his debut for both Barcelona and his country the previous season, but had made fewer than 30 first-team appearances in total. It was still more than enough to convince us he had a huge future. Below is a photo of Leo at that first ever signing in Barcelona. Since that day we have conducted six more exclusive signing sessions together. (We have also improved our photography skills considerably!)
Messi's footballing brilliance is not easy to put into words, suffice to say he is beyond hyperbole. A devastating combination of breathtaking speed and power, close control, and extraordinary technical ability lands him in a league of his own. For all his talent, even the outstanding Cristiano Ronaldo cannot get close. So inevitable was Messi's Ballon d'Or triumph that the Portuguese didn't even bother to attend at the ceremony in Zurich.
Messi's hat-trick of Ballon d'Or awards coincides with three consecutive La Liga wins for Barcelona. It's no coincidence. Since the beginning of the 2008/09 season, Messi has fired a remarkable 169 goals in 187 Barcelona appearances, with dozens of assists to boot. Never before has a player dominated world football quite like this at the tender age of 24. He has become only the fourth player to win the Ballon d'Or three times, alongside legends Marco van Basten, Michel Platini and Johan Cruyff. Messi will eclipse them all.
Along with dozens of individual accolades, Messi has accumulated five La Liga titles, three Champions League wins and a Copa del Rey. Indeed, the only piece of silverware missing from his sparkling CV is a World Cup with Argentina. At 24, however, he has time on his side. He will get further chances to emulate the feats of Pele and Diego Maradona at international level. In terms of pure ability though, he is more than a match for the pair of them already.
"Off the pitch I am just normal," said Messi in Zurich. And he's right. Humble, unassuming and polite, he is a pleasure to work with. On the pitch, however, he is unlike any footballer the world has ever seen.
Our most recent meeting with Leo came on December 5th of last year, just over a month ago (pictured below). You can view our fantastic range of personally signed Messi products - including home and away shirts, boots and photos - here.
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