Dr. Diego Schwarzstein, who helped Lionel Messi with growth injections in Argentina, has opened up about the difficulties faced by the Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) star.
He claims the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner was promised he would be taller than Diego Maradona when the first sessions started.
Messi was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency (GHD) during his childhood and needed a hormone injection routine. The Argentina captain had a rare condition that saw children stop growing once they were three years old.
The Times caught up with the doctor, who revealed some details and the family's reactions. Schwarzstein claims the parents were worried, but Leo wanted to know if he would grow enough to become a footballer.
The doctor said:
"They were unhappy and worried. Leo asked me if he was going to grow enough to become a footballer. I said to him: 'Don't worry, you will be taller than Maradona. I don't know if you are going to be better than him, but you'll be taller than him.' I was right. Maradona was 1.67 metres tall and Leo ended up 1.69 metres. That's more or less what I predicted."
Argentina captain Lionel Messi opens up on growth injections
Lionel Messi has spoken about his growth hormone deficiency (GHD) recovery and the injections he had to take in his childhood. The PSG star revealed that he took injections on his own when he was 12 years old but was helped by his parents when he started the treatment at 8.
He was quoted by Dream Team FC saying:
"I injected my legs once every night. I started at 12 years old. It was not something that left an impression on me. At first my parents gave me the injections from when I was eight years old until I learnt. It was a small needle. It did not hurt, it was something routine for me that I had to do and I did it normally."
"It was not very difficult for me to come to Barcelona. I adapted quickly but my family did not. My siblings wanted to go back and they did. I was left alone with my father and he asked me 'What should we do?' I told him 'I want to stay'."
Lionel Messi is in Qatar this month to lead Argentina in the FIFA World Cup. They have been clubbed alongside Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland in Group C of the tournament.