Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) superstar Lionel Messi opened up about his treatment for growth hormone deficiency in the book 'Messi: The must-read biography of the World Cup champion.'
The former Barcelona forward said in an interview, as compiled and published in the biography by Guillem Balague:
"When I was 11 years old they discovered that I had a growth hormone deficiency and I had to start a treatment to help me to grow. Every night I had to stick a needle into my legs, night after night after night, every day of the week, and this over a period of three years.
The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner added:
"I was so small, they said that when I went onto the pitch, or when I went to school, I was always the smallest of all. It was like this until I finished the treatment and I then started to grow properly."
The book goes on to mention an interview with Salvadoran sports newspaper El Grafico, where Lionel Messi discussed the issue in added detail. It read:
"The people who saw me injecting myself were surprised and felt ill. It didn't worry me and it didn't hurt. Wherever I went I took the syringe with me in its case and put it straight into the fridge, if I went to a friend's house, for example.
"I would then take it out and put it straight into my quadriceps. Every night it was like this. One day one leg, the next day, the other one."
More about Growth Hormone Deficiency (GHD), the disease current PSG star Lionel Messi was diagnosed with at 11
Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) superstar Lionel Messi was diagnosed with Growth Hormone Deficiency (GHD) at the age of 11. It is a medical condition caused due to the deficiency of the growth hormone, which is produced by the pituitary gland.
The treatment warranted a $900 monthly expense - one that his family couldn't afford, and River Plate and Newell's Old Boys were reluctant to cover (h/t Bleacher Report). He moved to Barcelona in 2000 and completed his treatment a year later as a 14-year-old.
Messi was 4 ft 2 in tall when he started his treatment. His current height reads at 5 ft 7 in, which shows the effectiveness of the medical treatment he received for GHD.
Messi went on to spend a storied 21 years with the Catalan giants before leaving on a free transfer to PSG. A return to Barca could now be on the cards, with the 35-year-old's PSG contract expiring this summer.