Brilliant young Argentinian footballer Lionel Messi had his most successful season in 2008/09, scoring 38 goals and playing a crucial part in a glittering year for Barcelona in which they won three competitions - the UEFA Champions League, the Spanish League and the Spanish Cup. This is the first time this feat has been achieved by any Spanish team.
His playing style and ability have drawn comparisons to football legend Diego Maradona, who himself has said that Messi is his successor.
In the Champions League final in Rome, he scored the second goal to secure a 2-0 win over Manchester United, and in the Copa del Rey final he scored one goal and assisted for another two in the 4-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao.
As Barcelona's successful Spanish League season was drawing to a close, Messi scored twice - his 35th and 36th goals – in a memorable 6-2 victory over arch rivals Real Madrid.
After scoring each goal, he ran towards the fans and the cameras lifting up his Barcelona jersey and showing another T-shirt that read Síndrome X Fràgil, which means Fragile X Syndrome in Catalan, to show his support for children who suffer from the affliction.
On December 19, Messi scored the winner in the final of the 2009 FIFA Club World Cup against Estudiantes in Abu Dhabi. Two days later, he was named FIFA World Player of the Year, beating Cristiano Ronaldo, Xavi, Kaka and Andres Iniesta. This was the first time he had won the award, and he became the first Argentine to receive the honour.