Xavi pays tribute to Lionel Messi in a heart-warming open letter
Former Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandes has penned a poignant letter paying tribute to his ex-Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi. He also made it clear that the Argentine is the finest footballer that the game has ever produced.
The Barcelona forward has won the Ballon d’Or an unbelievable five times now and it will be long before anyone overtakes this wizard of modern football. The 28-year-old claimed the prize in Zurich on Monday, defeating fellow rivals Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar.
Xavi played alongside Messi right from the time when the Argentine was introduced into the Barcelona first team. Only last season did Xavi decide to put an end to his Barcelona career, as he departed for the Qatari club, Al-Sadd where he now plies his trade.
The Spaniard, in an editorial which he wrote for the Spanish newspaper El Pais, recalls how he was mesmerized by the talents of Messi as a teenager on the training ground and how the modesty of the Argentine off the field attracted his attention.
"You could tell he was different. Leo, above all, had a talent that is the hardest to achieve: he understood the game. He could pass well and he could dribble around anyone you put in front of him: he used to leave the best defender we had on the ground.
"A while after he came to the first team we shared a trip and I discovered an educated boy, who was respectful, humble and not conceited at all.
"And that makes him exemplary, because being what he is now, being the best, he hasn't lost those values, he hasn't lost a bit of that humility and he respects his team-mates. I think Leo never wanted to be different from the others."
I never imagined he'd be the best player in history: Xavi
The 35-year-old added that when he saw a young-Messi for the first time he was awed by the teenager’s talents but never thought that he will go on to become the bet player on the planet. Xavi believes that it is not just Messi’s talents that set him apart from the rest, but it’s the time period for which he has been able to sustain his prowess.
"He was different, but he was only 16 years old, so I thought he'd be good, but I knew that football is very complicated, that a lot of things interfere, I never imagined he'd be the best player in history,” wrote Xavi.
"Ever since I've known him he hasn't stopped evolving. He improved what he had and he has also turned himself into a goalscorer.
"He didn't use to score so much and now he scores everything, he takes free kicks. And, like Pep [Guardiola] says, he dominates every aspect of the game.
"We'll never see something similar. Not only because of what he can do, but because of the time that he's been doing it for.
"Others have lasted two years, three; he seems to have no end in sight."