This 2013 has been another memorable year for Lionel Messi. Both in his national team and with Barcelona, the Argentinian has once again shown the explosive talent, goalscoring ability and leadership skills which have made him a unique talent in the game's history. Admiration for him has continued to grow, even in a year in which he has been troubled by injuries.
It is hardly surprising, then, that fellow footballers and coaches have once again voted for La Pulga to be in contention for the FIFA Ballon d’Or, with the forward looking to claim the prize for the fifth time in a row. Here, FIFA.com looks back at three of Messi’s most memorable moments this year.
Celta Vigo - Barcelona: 19 in a row in La Liga
30 March 2013
In the 71st minute, Messi made it 2-1 in Vigo and set a new record by scoring against all of the teams in La Liga in consecutive rounds of the competition. During that streak, which began on 11 November 2012 against Mallorca, Leo netted 30 goals in 19 games.
The Argentinian scored four at home to Osasuna; two against Zaragoza, Mallorca, Levante, Athletic Bilbao, Betis, Atletico Madrid, Granada and Rayo Vallecano; while one versus Valladolid, Espanyol, Malaga, Real Sociedad, Valencia, Getafe, Sevilla, Real Madrid, Deportivo and Celta.
"I don’t give importance to it,” a humble Messi said afterwards. “The important thing is to keep winning points.” Barça were held 2-2 at Celta in the end, but the result did little to affect the Catalans’ cruise to the title.
Paraguay - Argentina: qualification clinched and a new landmark reached
10 September 2013
In a key 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil qualifier in Asuncion, Messi scored two and set up another goal in a historic 5-2 win which sealed Argentina’s passage to Brazil 2014 with two games still to spare.
The goals also saw the Albiceleste captain move above Hernan Crespo and into second place in the list of all-time top scorers for Argentina, with 37 strikes for his national side.
“We had some big tests and we passed them against some quality teams,” said Messi after the match. “We are on the right track, but we still have a long way to go before we can think about being world champions.” Leo ended the campaign as the second-highest scorer with ten goals, behind only Uruguay’s Luis Suarez.
Barcelona: another trophy for the collection
20 November 2013
Although sidelined through injury and out of action until 2014, Messi was all smiles in Barcelona as he received an unprecedented third Golden Shoe for finishing as top goalscorer in European leagues in 2012/13.
La Pulga contributed 46 goals in 32 games as Barcelona secured the title with a club-record 100 points. It was the third time that Messi had claimed this prize in his career, moving him ahead of German great Gerd Muller, Portuguese trio Eusebio, Fernando Gomes and Cristiano Ronaldo, Romanian Dudu Georgescu, Scottish striker Ally McCoist and Frenchman Thierry Henry, all with two awards.
"It’s a very special recognition, but I dedicate it to the entire group. Without my team-mates, I wouldn’t have achieved anything,” Messi stated amid applause from Barcelona colleagues Carles Puyol, Xavi Hernandez, Gerard Pique and Cesc Fabregas, among others.