Happy birthday, Leo.
Lionel Messi is celebrating his 28th birthday on Wednesday, capping a highly successful year for the Barcelona forward. Messi led Argentina to the World Cup Final last summer and then helped Barcelona to La Liga, Copa Del Rey and UEFA Champions League titles this season.
Considering Messi has been dazzling us for a decade, it's hard to believe Ray Hudson's favorite Millennial is only 28. To celebrate the occasion, we compiled 28 of Messi's most epic goals, a task made difficult not by a shortage of epic goals but rather by an overabundance.
Some of Messi's best goals for both Barcelona and Argentina are below.
Lionel Messi's abuse of Jerome Boateng in this year's Champions League semifinal perhaps deserves its own category. But Boateng, featured in this first video, isn't the only defender Messi has embarrassed over the years.
Messi making Getafe look foolish is its own subgenre of Lionel Messi goals.
Messi has also made a habit of torching Athletic Bilbao. Here's just one.
We love marveling at Messi running through entire defenses. But he also has a knack for beautiful free kick goals.
As a member of Barcelona, Messi is of course judged by his performance against archrival Real Madrid. His goals haven't disappointed. (Bonus: The first video includes a sulking Jose Mourinho!)
You can credit Cesc Fabregas for the assist on this goal. (Unfortunately for Fabregas, he was playing for Arsenal at the time.)
Messi also has the well-known ability to cause beIN Sports television commentator Ray Hudson to yell during broadcasts. As U.S. viewers will know, that's a huge understatement. Here's a sampling.
Some Messi detractors like to point out that he is surrounded by a bevy of Barcelona talent, but the Argentinean's flair for the incredible goal isn't just limited to his club. He has also scored a number of brilliant goals for his country.
At just 5'7", Messi isn't known for his heading ability. But Messi scored with his head on the biggest stage: The 2009 UEFA Champions League Final against Manchester United.
He makes the spectacular look routine.
Happy birthday, Leo!
- Stanley Kay