8 years of Leo
The setting was the panoramic Montjuïchill, which oversees the Catalan capital from dusk til dawn. FC Barcelona, managed by Frank Rijkaard, were beating their hosts and city rivals Espanyol 1-0. In the 82nd minute match goalscorer Deco, jogged to to sideline and hugged a player with a short frame who was wearing the number 30 shirt. The midfield maestro came off for Messi, who in return, was making his first appearance for the club and becoming the second youngest to do so at that time.
In the short space of time, Messi displayed glimpses of magic, always looking to run into empty spaces, a technique he would later master and become renowned for. Following the final whistle, journalists approached the talented but notoriously shy forward, capturing his first words:
“I will remember these 10 minutes for the rest of my life, I am very happy.”
His first goal arrived 7 and half months later, inside the roaring Camp Nou against Albacete and since then, the boy from Rosario has scored another 264 goals, alongsige zig-zagging through dozens of defenders, breaking numerous records and lifting plenty trophies, all of which are transforming him into one the best footballer’s of all time. Maybe, the best.
And let’s not forget, Leo is still 25. [DV]