Messi Playing for Argentina

Messi made his first appearance in Argentine colours in an U-20 friendly against Paraguay. He was part of the Argentine team which won the FIFA Youth Championship in Holland in 2005 by beating Nigeria in the final. Messi finished the tournament as its highest goal scorer, and was named Player of the Tournament.

Recognising his potential, Argentina manager Jose Pekerman handed him his senior debut against Hungary in August 2005. Unfortunately for young Lionel, his debut lasted all of two minutes. He was sent off by referee Markus Merk for elbowing Hungarian defender Vilmos Vanczák.

Messi managed to make it to Argentina's star studded team for the 2006 World Cup. He made his World Cup debut against Serbia as a substitute for Maxi Rodriguez, and also scored Argentina's sixth and final goal in that game. He was on the bench for Argentina's quarterfinal against hosts Germany, which the Albicelestes lost on penalties.

Messi was also part of the Argentine side that finished second in the 2007 Copa America tournament. He scored two goals, and helped in creating many more, but was unable to prevent Argentina from losing to arch rivals Brazil in the final.

Argentina managed to secure Messi's services for the 2008 Beijing Olympics after the player held personal talks with manager Josep Guardiola. He scored twice for Argentina in the tournament and also assisted Angel Di Maria for the winner against Nigeria in the final.

Messi is expected to be a key figure for Argentina in the upcoming 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

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