Former Real Madrid and Barcelona star Gheorghe Hagi has opined that Barcelona and Argentine superstar Lionel Messi has changed football forever. Barcelona have achieved remarkable success throughout their existence and one of their exponents of current times is Messi.
The 29-year-old forward is considered as one the greatest players of all times. At Barcelona, he has won 29 trophies which include eight La Liga trophies and four Champions League titles. Messi has also won the Ballon d’Or five times for his achievements at the Catalonian club.
Messi has been an integral part of Barcelona’s possession-based style of play – a philosophy that has been transcended by the likes of Frank Rijkaard, Pep Guardiola and the current coach Luis Enrique.
Although Messi has won a lot at club level he is yet to achieve any magnitude of success in his national colours. He came close three times but lost in the final – twice in the Copa America and once in the World Cup. Nevertheless, Hagi believes that the Argentine along with his club-mates has left an indelible mark on the game.
Speaking to Omnisport, Hagi said, "Messi has always had an amazing team behind him. I think that was his luck, to be in a team with 20 extraordinary players. They changed football forever. There were so pragmatic, so simple, going from simple to complicated with a lot of technique. Because what matters is the mind, the talent and the skills of the player, because you have to choose players with talent."
Hagi played for Barcelona between 1994 and 1996 under the tutelage of Dutch legend Johann Cruyff. He feels that working under Cruyff was hugely beneficial for him.
The Romanian said, "I learned a lot of him. When he called me at the  World Cup, [to tell me] that he wanted me in Barcelona, it was a happy day for me. I knew if I went there I would learn a lot from Ajax, Cruyff, Barcelona too with the concept.
"So it was an honour for me to be coached, to learn, to see the hero of my childhood, to be near him, to see how he thinks, to see how he acts if you do something wrong - and that happened two or three times because I made mistakes.
"I learned a lot from him. All his thoughts about football, how he thought, how he created, how he trained, that was fundamental. I say that Barcelona changed my mind."