Player name: Lionel Andrés Messi
Clubs: Newell's Old Boys, FC Barcelona
Height: 5 ft 7 in
Lionel Messi is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a forward and captains both the Spanish club Barcelona and the Argentina national team. Often considered as the best player in the world and widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, Messi has won a record six Ballon d'Or awards[note 2] and a record six European Golden Shoes. He has spent his entire professional career with Barcelona, where he has won a club-record 33 trophies, including ten La Liga titles, four UEFA Champions League titles and six Copas del Rey. A prolific goalscorer and creative playmaker, Messi holds the records for most goals in La Liga (455), a La Liga and European league season (50), most hat-tricks in La Liga (36) and the UEFA Champions League (8), and most assists in La Liga (185), a La Liga and European league season (21) and the Copa América (12). He has scored over 700 senior career goals for club and country.
Born and raised in central Argentina, Messi relocated to Spain to join Barcelona at age 13, for whom he made his competitive debut aged 17 in October 2004. He established himself as an integral player for the club within the next three years, and in his first uninterrupted season in 2008–09 he helped Barcelona achieve the first treble in Spanish football; that year, aged 22, Messi won his first Ballon d'Or. Three successful seasons followed, with Messi winning four consecutive Ballons d'Or, making him the first player to win the award four times and in a row. During the 2011–12 season, he set the La Liga and European records for most goals scored in a single season, while establishing himself as Barcelona's all-time top scorer. The following two seasons, Messi finished second for the Ballon d'Or behind Cristiano Ronaldo (his perceived career rival), before regaining his best form during the 2014–15 campaign, becoming the all-time top scorer in La Liga and leading Barcelona to a historic second treble, after which he was awarded a fifth Ballon d'Or in 2015. Messi assumed the captaincy of Barcelona in 2018, and in 2019 he secured a record sixth Ballon d'Or.
Here we present to you a truly special and unique masterpiece of footballing memorabilia, one of the most desirable match worn items in the world: a pair of Lionel Messi's match worn Adidas F50 Adizero boots, in his beautiful special edition colourway. Leo wore this pair during the 2013-14 season, specifically between February and April 2014, whilst captaining FC Barcelona in La Liga & the UEFA Champions League, as well as for the Argentina national team. As you can imagine, acquiring match worn boots from a player who is arguably the greatest player in the history of football isn't exactly easy, the work behind the scenes that goes into getting our hands on pairs like these is all worth it when they are in hand and the fascinating customisation secrets can come to the surface. Simply stunning.
During the 2013-14 season, Leo made a total of 46 appearances for FC Barcelona scoring 41 and assisting 14 goals. Not one of his stand out seasons in terms of goal involvement figures, which speaks volumes for the players' standards. 55 goal involvements in 46 appearances is almost unthinkable for the majority of players, even the very elite players at that. Yet for Messi, numbers like these are clockwork and represent a usual season by his terms.
The size label states Adidas' motto "Only the best for the athlete", and this pair are a complete testament to that. Every square millimetre has been completely tailored to king Leo's exact specifications and requirements, ensuring that he gets only the very best footwear to aid his game to the maximum - they are handcrafted and custom made to measure by Adidas' Athlete Services in Germany. This factory is located in Herzogenaurach at the Adidas Headquarters base.
Did you know - Leo signed a contract with Nike when he was just 14 years old as the American brand began to realise his potential. Messi made his Barcelona La Liga debut against Espanyol during the 2004/05 season wearing a pair of Air Zoom T90 III boots. Towards the end of that season Messi notched his first Barca goal wearing Nike Air Legend boots before moving in to the Mercurial range to round off all of Nike's silos. By the end of his first season with Barcelona the fresh faced Argentine was starting to make people sit up and take notice, including Adidas who reportedly offered Messi a £400,000 annual endorsement deal, almost £300,000 more than Nike had put on the table. Messi duly obliged and signed a five-year contract with Adidas in February 2006, fighting off a legal case with Nike who were so close to having a Ronaldo/Messi combo in their armoury.
In a side by side direct comparison with the retail version of this Messi F50 Adizero special edition model, there are numerous differences that are noticeable between the two, some easier to spot than others. The retail model was constructed from a one piece synthetic upper material known as the Hybrid Touch, which on the Messi special edition colourways made up the entirety of the upper, as opposed to the usual F50 Adizero's featuring Speed Foil in the rear half of the upper - tongue however is still made up of the Speed Foil material. The outsole featured the usual Sprint Frame found on Adizero's, which is still to date widely regarded as one of the best in the business. As we can see above from a lateral side view alone, the shape of Messi's pair is vastly different in terms of profile and volume, as well as featuring 2 additional lace holes to allow Messi to adjust the fitment and lockdown with precision. The different surface texture on the bespoke upper of Leo's pair is visibly noticeable.
Now we flip over to a comparison of the medial sides, where there are again a list of differences... let's start with the graphics, due to advertisement reasons the actual paint job on Leo's pair is far more saturated and vibrant, with the coloured sections also being larger in size - Adidas trying their utmost here to make them stand out on the pitch as much as possible! Understandable, though, with Messi being the only sponsored Adidas player who wore these, so he was the sole on pitch promoter of them for the brand. Just like the lateral side, the instep also features the 2 additional lace holes. The medial side of the heel cup on Messi's pair is actually of a higher cut and of a higher construction, likely for a tad extra ankle support.
Messi's addition to the Adidas family resulted in an impressive line up; he joined the likes of Beckham and Zidane who were the lead players for the Predator range. Beckham was renowned for his curling free-kicks and Zidane for pulling the strings in the midfield, so where did Messi fit in to the Predator line-up? Exactly, he didn't. Messi had his own style, lightning fast, bags of skill and an eye for goal so Adidas placed him in a line of boots to compliment the way he played and a line of boots which he would influence in years to come. Messi's relationship with the F50 began in the months leading up to the 2006 World Cup. After a brief spell in the F50+ Adidas wanted to lace up their new asset in the +F50.6 tunit, the first boot where players could change the upper, outsole and sock liners. Messi, however wasn't a fan of the interchangeable sole plate and instead famously opted for the take-down F30 model with fixed studs.
Typically, the Adidas F50 Adizero range was an overall narrow fitting boot with extremely low profile toe box areas which of course then resulted in a low internal space volume... Messi's pair however are the opposite of all of those things. Whilst the heel to midfoot areas are of a fairly narrow build, the forefoot areas are extremely wide in order to accommodate his foot shape.
Above: this exact pair of Leo Messi's Adidas F50 Adizero boots, along side an SG pair, in the FC Barcelona dressing room ahead of the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final second leg match vs Atletico Madrid at the Vincente Calderon Stadium on April 9th 2014.
"SAMPLE, not for resale" is stamped inside the heel area of each boot. This is applied there simply to further prevent this pair being sold on the commercial market, for obvious reasons Adidas couldn't allow them to be used by anyone other than king Leo. Also visible in the above picture is the inside heel label, which states the month and year the boots were made along with the Adidas Herzogenaurach HQ factory number "502001".
Due to his short stature, Messi has a lower centre of gravity than taller players, which gives him greater agility, allowing him to change direction more quickly and evade opposing tackles; this has led the Spanish media to dub him La Pulga Atómica (“The Atomic Flea”). Despite being physically unimposing, he possesses significant upper-body strength, which, combined with his low centre of gravity and resulting balance, aids him in withstanding physical challenges from opponents; he has consequently been noted for his lack of diving in a sport rife with playacting. His short, strong legs allow him to excel in short bursts of acceleration while his quick feet enable him to retain control of the ball when dribbling at speed. His former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola once stated, “Messi is the only player that runs faster with the ball than he does without it.” Although he has improved his ability with his weaker foot since his mid-20s, Messi is predominantly a left-footed player; with the outside of his left foot, he usually begins dribbling runs, while he uses the inside of his foot to finish and provide passes and assists. Messi prepares to shoot with his dominant left foot during the final of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Adidas have added a personal touch for Leo on this pair, with the application of his squad number "10" to the instep of each boot along with his son's name "Thiago" & DOB "02/11/12". Since 2008, Messi has been in a relationship with Antonella Roccuzzo, a fellow native of his home town Rosario. He has known Roccuzzo since he was five years old, as she is the cousin of his best friend since childhood, Lucas Scaglia, who is also a football player. As well as Thiago, Messi also has 2 other children; Mateo (born 2015) and Ciro (born 2018). To celebrate his partner's first pregnancy, Messi placed the ball under his shirt after scoring in Argentina's 4–0 win against Ecuador on 2 June 2012, before confirming the pregnancy in an interview two weeks later. Thiago was born in Barcelona, with Messi attending the birth after being given permission by Barcelona to miss training. He announced his son's arrival on his Facebook page, writing, "Today I am the happiest man in the world, my son was born and thanks to God for this gift!" Thiago's name and handprints are tattooed on his left calf - imagine the nerves the tattoo artist had when applying that to Leo's left wand...
Now the upper is where things really do get interesting, Messi's version is completely bespoke to his request. It essentially is a remastered version of the already good Hybrid Touch synthetic found on the retail version... but *good* simply isn't of a high enough standard for the tools of the greatest player on the planet to aid him in applying his magic to the pitch. It is seemingly as close to leather without actually being leather, the softness and thickness are incredible, along with the application of the diamond stitching to the toe box areas - lifted straight from the previous generation F50 Adizero leather edition, at boot of which Leo was an avid wearer. The graining effect of the upper is also extremely raised and structured, adding to the overall quality. This stitching pattern will further mirror the leather similarity of the upper, as well as prevent over stretching.
A prolific goalscorer, Messi is known for his finishing, positioning, quick reactions, and ability to make attacking runs to beat the defensive line. He also functions in a playmaking role, courtesy of his vision and precise passing, and is an accurate free kick and penalty kick taker, though his ability on penalties has somewhat deteriorated in recent seasons. His pace and technical ability enable him to undertake individual dribbling runs towards goal, in particular during counterattacks, usually starting from the halfway line or the right side of the pitch. Widely considered to be the best dribbler in the world, and one of the greatest of all time with regard to this ability, his former Argentina manager Diego Maradona has said of him, “The ball stays glued to his foot; I’ve seen great players in my career, but I’ve never seen anyone with Messi’s ball control.” Beyond his individual qualities, he is also a well-rounded, hard-working team player, known for his creative combinations, in particular with Barcelona midfielders Xavi and Andrés Iniesta.
Both the lateral and medial sides of the upper, just like the toe boxes, also feature additional stitching. 3 double lines have been applied to either side which run parallel with the black Adidas stripes, with the simple function of adding extra support to the sides of the foot whilst also preventing over stretching. Due to the butter-like softness of the upper, these stitches really are necessary in adding some sort of structure.
Tactically, Messi plays in a free attacking role; a versatile player, he is capable of attacking on either wing or through the centre of the pitch. His favoured position in childhood was the playmaker behind two strikers, known as the enganche in Argentine football, but he began his career in Spain as a left-winger or left-sided forward. Upon his first-team debut, he was moved onto the right wing by manager Frank Rijkaard; from this position, he could more easily cut through the defence into the middle of the pitch and curl shots on goal with his left foot, rather than predominantly cross balls for teammates. Under Guardiola and subsequent managers, he most often played in a false nine role; positioned as a centre-forward or lone striker, he would roam the centre, often moving deep into midfield and drawing defenders with him, in order to create and exploit spaces for passes, dribbling runs or combinations with Xavi and Iniesta. Under the stewardship of Luis Enrique, Messi returned to playing in the right-sided position that characterised much of his early career, while also being deployed in a deeper, free role. With the Argentina national team, Messi has similarly played anywhere along the frontline; under various managers, he has been employed on the right wing, as a false nine, or in a deeper, creative role as a classic number 10 or attacking midfielder.
The interior lining features much of the same luxurious custom-ness that the rest of the boots ooze, with additional padding in the forefoot areas and a super soft blue suede material lining. This again seems to replicate in most senses the previous generation leather edition F50 Adizero. On the topic of interior, the MiCoach cavity is actually blocked off as Messi would simply never have used it. This was the technology released in 2013 on the previous generation of Adidas silo's where the chip was to be fitted inside of the left boot and it would track performance stats such as running speed and distance etc. This technology never really took off with the general public, and it was surplus to requirements to the elite level professionals as they do of course have multiple lines of stat observers. The MiCoach gradually faded out of the market not long after it's release.
An Argentine international, Messi is his country's all-time leading goalscorer. At youth level, he won the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship, finishing the tournament with both the Golden Ball and Golden Shoe, and an Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics. His style of play as a diminutive, left-footed dribbler drew comparisons with his compatriot Diego Maradona, who described Messi as his successor. After his senior debut in August 2005, Messi became the youngest Argentine to play and score in a FIFA World Cup during the 2006 edition, and reached the final of the 2007 Copa América, where he was named young player of the tournament. As the squad's captain from August 2011, he led Argentina to three consecutive finals: the 2014 FIFA World Cup, for which he won the Golden Ball, and the 2015 and 2016 Copa América. After announcing his international retirement in 2016, he reversed his decision and led his country to qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and a third-place finish at the 2019 Copa América.
The soleplate of the boots accommodate more modifications to meet Messi's requirements, the Sprint Frame outsole on this model traditionally featured only triangular studs on the FG variant. Leo however has his boots made with conical/rounded studs, tin the form of the 2 rear and 2 front studs. This is known as his famous "Gambatrax" soleplate which he had applied to every pair of his FG F50 Adizero's from 2010 right the way through to 2015. This unique stud design is said to suit his style of play with fast, sharp changes of direction and agile movements. This nice mixture of conical and triangular studs is aggressive enough for sprinting traction when darting away from crunching tackles, whilst also allowing for improved manoeuvrability. These custom studs however wouldn't aid any player using them on a boggy pitch on a Sunday morning!
Throughout his career, Messi has very rarely ever worn SG variant soleplates on his boots, and even when he did, just like his FG plates he likes to have his modified elements. In the above picture during a training session with FC Barcelona, visible is the only 1 occasion he wore this colourway in SG, which shows the different layout to a usual F50 Adizero SG configuration which would likely provide better balance with the metal studs in the forefoot spaced out in a much more sensible way, instead of being over biased to the front of the Sprint Frame outsole. Also, upon closer inspection, shock absorbers have been applied in between the metal studs and the outsole itself with yellow ones in the forefoot and black in the heels.
With what Messi has achieved and continues to during his career, it is hard to dispute that he is *THE* greatest player on the planet, many would argue of all time.
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