Former Barcelona manager Juan Carlos Unzue has revealed the humility Lionel Messi demonstrated in front of players like Ronaldinho and Deco at the beginning of his career. The former Barca coach recalled when the Argentine, at 16 years of age, would just sit on the ball watching the senior players practice free kicks.
"When Messi came into the first team, there were players like Ronaldinho, Deco and Rafa Márquez, who were excellent free-kick takers and stayed after training to practice. But Messi would sit on a ball, just watching them practice," Unzue explained, as quoted by Barca Universal on Twitter.
"So I asked Messi 'Why don't you practice? I've seen you score free-kick goals at La Masia'. Messi replied, 'This is not my moment, this is Ronaldinho's, Deco's, and Marquez's moment'... At 16, Messi respected the hierarchies," he added.
Lionel Messi was just 17 years old when he earned a promotion to Barcelona's senior team back in the summer of 2005. Upon getting into the side, he played alongside some of the world's finest footballers, including Ronaldinho, Deco, and Samuel Eto'o.
The Argentine had to wait for his time to shine, which eventually came after just a couple of seasons. He became the club's undisputed superstar after Ronaldinho left for AC Milan in 2008.
Lionel Messi would go on to become the greatest player in the club's history, leading them to an era of unprecedented success in which they claimed a whopping 35 trophies. The Argentine played 778 games for Barcelona across all competitions during his time at Camp Nou, recording 672 goals and 303 assists in all competitions.
He eventually parted ways with the Catalan giants in the summer of 2021, joining Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) on a two-year contract. So far, he's played 55 games for the French giants, contributing 24 goals and 29 assists across all fronts.
Lionel Messi linked with a return to Barcelona
According to widespread reports, Lionel Messi is set to extend his stay with PSG, who have the option of triggering a one-year extension on his current contract that expires at the end of this season.
But there have been reports of a possible exit as well and Barcelona are, of course, one of the clubs monitoring his situation.
Bluaugrana president Joan Laporta has said multiple times that he dreams of the 35-year-old's potential return to Camp Nou. Barca manager Xavi Hernandez has also left the door open to welcome the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner should an opportunity arise.
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