Lionel Messi may be known as the greatest footballer of all time to many fans, but he’s also proved time and time again he’s one of the greatest human beings.
As a child, Messi had a difficult start to life, growing up in Argentina at a time when the country was on the brink of economic collapse. His parents are believed to have struggled to find work during periods of his childhood, and with Messi needing expensive hormone treatments, it was always going to be a struggle.
So it’s not surprising to see that the ex-Barcelona star is heavily involved in charitable work now that he has amassed a large personal wealth, but the extent of the Argentinian’s acts of kindness are incredible to see.
Here are eight times the PSG forward proved just how selfless he really is.
Donating €1million to fight coronavirus:
Early in 2020 when the world was on lockdown, and people were scared all around the globe as the coronavirus swept across borders, Messi made a huge donation believed to be in the region of 1 million euros to Barcelona’s hospital clinic.
Messi also took part in numerous campaigns during the pandemic to highlight the importance of staying at home and washing hands to avoid spreading the virus. Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is also believed to have donated a similar amount to the Argentine.
Helped to fund the SJD Pediatric Cancer Center:
Most of Messi’s charitable work involves children and this project was no different. The Sant Joan de Deu Hospital in Barcelona was hoping to open a new department for the specialised treatment of children with cancer. The PSG star joined the campaign in a bid to raise awareness for their cause.
After around 27 million euros was raised, Messi personally funded the final 3 million out of his own pocket to complete the campaign. He then attended the ceremony signifying the beginning of construction of the new centre, meeting some of the children who would benefit from the new development.
Messi said at the time: “It’s a very happy moment for me, it’s extraordinary to be part of this project and see it become a reality.
“I want to thank everyone who worked to make this possible.
“I hope that with this, the kids can continue fighting this cancer disease which is so cruel and that we can help them do so. I feel very happy to be able to collaborate in this dream.”
Visiting Haiti following the devastating earthquake:
While it’s not unusual for footballers to participate in charitable work, and donate to the causes, Messi went above and beyond all expectations as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
In 2010, the little magician pushed aside his hectic schedule to visit Haiti after the country was torn apart by an earthquake around six months previously. Messi visited a camp known as ‘Carrefour Aviation’ which was home to around 50,000 Haitians who had become homeless due to the earthquake. He spent time with families and children at the camp as well as the UNICEF staff, learning about what they were doing to help the country.
Messi also took the time to meet with Argentinian troops stationed in the country as part of the UN’s Stabilisation Mission. Many of the soldiers had helped run hospitals in the area in the wake of the natural disaster.
Donating €650,000 to refurbish a Rosario hospital:
Messi was born in the small town of Rosario in Argentina and has often used his wealth to help out the town.
Back in 2013, it’s believed Messi donated around €650,000 for the refurbishment of a local hospital. But this isn’t the only time Messi has made donations in his hometown, in 2020 after finding out that hospitals in the area had a severe shortage of respirators, he also donated 50 of the machines in a bid to help them deal with coronavirus patients.
Paying a child’s medical bills:
Messi’s problems with growth deficiency as a child are well documented, it’s believed his parents sometimes struggled to pay for the treatment before he signed for Barcelona.
Back in 2012, a 12-year-old boy had the same growth deficiency and also wanted to be a footballer, but like Messi came from a family that were struggling to pay his medical bills. So unsurprisingly the child’s story resonated with the Argentinian superstar, and he offered to pay for the child’s medical bills until he reaches 18.
Messi also sent the family a photo of himself holding the boy’s t-shirt and wrote a message sending his love and telling the child to be strong.
Meeting a young boy from Afghanistan:
Back in 2016, a 5-year-old Afghan boy named Murtaza Ahmadi went viral after his brother posted an image to Facebook of the youngster wearing a blue and white striped plastic bag fashioned into a shirt with Messi’s name and number scrawled on the back.
The viral photo caught the attention of the ex-Barcelona man and he sent the child a signed Argentina jersey with his name and number on the back. But when Barcelona visited Doha for a friendly against Al Ahli, the club went a step further and flew the boy out to meet his idol.
Murtaza was invited to walk onto the pitch with the squad and even took part in the team photographs. There was also footage of the youngster hugging his hero in the tunnel before kick-off.
Building 20 new classrooms in Syria:
In 2017 the Leo Messi foundation made a huge donation to UNICEF for the installation of 20 new classrooms in Tartus, Syria and Damascus. This allowed 1,600 Syrian children that had been affected by the war to return to school.
UNICEF released a statement thanking Messi’s charity: “More than 60 per cent of children attending these schools have been displaced from their homes due to the fighting.
“School provides children affected by war with a routine, structure, and a sense of normality in a situation that is far from normal. We are grateful to the generous support of the Leo Messi Foundation to help hundreds of children access education.”
Messi’s wedding gifts:
It’s probably safe to assume that Messi and his family have practically everything they could ever want or need. So when the PSG star married his wife, he asked his friends and family not to purchase them gifts.
But rather than simply asking them to keep their money, the forward requested that guests make a donation to the Leo Messi Foundation instead, to enable him to continue improving the lives of others.
It’s this selfless act and many others discussed in this list that has endeared the superstar to so many people around the world.
Many footballers can learn from Messi’s willingness to give back to those less fortunate than himself. But also from the effort he puts into getting personally involved in the causes he is supporting, rather than simply donating money.
The PSG forward seems to understand that sometimes his presence, or an experience, can mean more to people than money alone.