Since opening his Barcelona account on May 1, 2005, Lionel Messi has been almost unstoppable. The forward added another record to his name on Saturday when he scored his 252nd league goal to become La Liga’s all-time leading goal-scorer. He added another for good measure and now sits on 253 goals.
The record setting run came over 10 years and 289 matches and surpassed Telmo Zarra’s 60+ year old record that most fans thought was untouchable. Zarra set the mark while playing 277 times for Athletic Bilbao between 1940 and 1955.
In tribute of the record, World Soccer Shop has created an exclusive jersey, Messi Limited Edition La Liga Goal Record Barcelona Jersey, to mark the occasion. The official Barcelona jersey has a custom made number on the back that lists every goal Messi scored on the way to 252. A very cool tribute and extremely limited edition with only 10 of these produced.
But a lot has changed since a shaggy haired boy wearing Nike cleats (say it ain’t so) was given his first start at 17-years and 114-day old by then manager Frank Rijkaard. And as this is a record set over years, we take a look back at some of the looks during the period.
During Messi’s early seasons, Barcelona still did not have a jersey sponsor on the front of their jersey. The clean almost retro looking jersey included narrow blue and red vertical stripes.
This look lasted a couple of years before switched to a jersey with the thicker red and blue stripes as well as a halved jersey (below) and for the first time in team history the front of the jersey had a sponsor with Unicef taking that position. The new look came about the same time as Messi’s move to adidas although the timing was purely coincidental.
Barcelona was back in narrow stripes with blue sleeves and a new jersey sponsor to start the 2011/12 La Liga campaign. Qatar Foundation took the spot on the front of the jersey while the Unicef logo was moved to the back of the jersey under the player number. The new look did nothing to slow down Messi, who continued to celebrate goals.
After sitting 1 goal behind Zarra for a month, Messi equaled his mark off a free-kick and then set the record with a finish from close range that started an on-field celebration with his teammates.
The goal scoring march by Messi hit a high water mark (for the time) when he scored 50 goals in 37 appearances in 2011/12. The outburst made Messi the first player in La Liga history to score 50 goals during a campaign.
The 50 goal mark was incredible but his consistency with 20+ goals is also impressive. After scoring 1 goal in 2004/05, Messi added 6 goals, 14 goals, and 10 goals the following 3 seasons. He broke the 20 goal barrier with 23 goals in 2008/09 and then really caught on with 34 goals, 31 goals, 50 goals, 46 goals, and 28 goals in the ensuing seasons. Thus far in 2014/15 he has a modest 10 goals.
There have been other milestones on the way to the record.
Messi notched his first La Liga hat-trick on May 10, 2010 and it could not have come against a better opponent, Real Madrid. Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto’o congratulate the young 19 year old on the feat.
Only 7 players were in the 200+ La Liga goal club when Messi joined their ranks after scoring against Osasuna on January 27, 2013.
Messi scored in 19 consecutive La Liga matches during the 2012/13 campaign.
The question now being asked is how high can Messi set the new record.