Lionel Messi becomes a dad but still ready to play

Lionel Messi

Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi announced the birth of his first child, Thiago, although the club say he will still play on Saturday. Messi's partner, Antonella Roccuzzo, delivered their son at the Dexeus hospital about 700 metres (less than half a mile) from Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium.

"Today I am the happiest man in the world, my son was born and thanks to God for this gift! Thanks to my family for the support! A hug to everyone," the 25-year-old Argentine said on his Facebook page.

Messi had permission to miss football training in the morning "for a personal matter" on the eve of Barcelona's home game against Celta de Vigo, Barcelona said in an online statement.

But coach Tito Vilanova said the Argentine is still expected to play at the Camp Nou on Saturday.

"In principle he will be there for the game. It does not change anything that he has not trained for one day, it's not important," Vilanova told a news conference.

In an interview published this week, Messi said he will not be pushing Thiago to lace up his football boots as a career.

"He should be whatever he wants to be," Messi told Spain's top selling daily Marca.

"When he grows up he will get to know what he wants and what he chooses will be fine for me, for his mother and for everyone."

Thiago's arrival caps and no doubt overwhelms a string of good news for Messi in the past week.

The football wonder picked up the Golden Boot award on Monday for scoring 50 goals last season and he is favoured this year to win his fourth Ballon d'Or award for the world's best footballer.

Last weekend he also scored his 300th career goal.

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