Ethnicity: On his father's side, he is of Italian and Spanish descent, the great-grandson of immigrants from the northcentral Adriatic Marche region of Italy and Catalonia, and on his mother's side, he has primarily Italian ancestry.
Lionel Messi was born, 24 June 1987, in Rosario, Argentina to a working class family. His father was a factory steel worker, and his mother a cleaner.
As a young boy, he tagged along when his two older brothers played soccer with their friends, unintimidated by the bigger boys. At the age of five, Messi started playing for the Grandoli, a local club coached by his father. By the time he turned eight, he was playing for Newell’s Old Boys. The group was immensely talented, which is visible from the fact that they lost just a single match in the next four years. It was their sheer interest and talent for the game that made the group popularly known as ‘The Machine of '87’
At the age of 8, he was recruited to join the youth system of Newell's Old Boys, a Rosario-based club. Recognizably smaller than most of the kids in his age group, at the age of 11, Messi was diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency (GHD). This was a condition that stunted growth, and required expensive medical treatment, including the use of the drug Human growth hormone.
Local club, River Plate were interested in signing Messi, but didn’t want to pay for his medical treatment. However, Messi was given a trial with Barcelona, and coach Carles Rexach was impressed – offering Messi a contract (written on paper napkin!) which included paying for Messi’s treatment in Spain. Messi moved to Barcelona with his father.