It has been 15 years since Lionel Messi made his debut for Barcelona and a new era was born. The game of football has never been the same since.
Messi had taken to the field for Barcelona in a friendly against Jose Mourinho’s Porto side, aged 16 years, four months, and 23 days old, on 16 November 2003, and he was already turning out for the Barcelona ‘B’ team in next-to-no time.
A single training session with the first-team squad led the great Ronaldinho to believe that Messi would surpass him, and it wasn’t long before he was fast-tracked into the Blaugrana’s star-studded side.
Lionel Messi made his debut in 2004 when he replaced Deco with 8 minutes to go in the 1-0 win over Espanyol. It was only just the beginning of legacy that would cement his place in the upper-echelons of the sport’s all-time elite.
“It is a very important date with regard to my career,” Messi recalled. “I was able to fulfil my childhood dream. The truth is that it was a very happy day. I was happy, but also very nervous.”
“When I got on, I just enjoyed the moment. I remember I had a really good chance against the goalkeeper, but I didn’t get hold of it.
“Rijkaard came up to me after the game and said that I missed the chance.”
Messi scored his first goal against Albacete and went on to become their youngest ever goal scorer that time. Since making his Barcelona bow, Messi has gone on to score a staggering 604 goals in 692 appearances, as well as chipping in with 233 assists.
He’s won 10 La Liga titles, 6 Copa del Reys, 4 Champions League and three Club World Cups, cementing his place as Barca’s greatest player and perhaps the best ever to kick a ball about for a living. He has won the most prestigious Ballon d’Or award 5 times.
Only few sports people reach such heights. Many strive with all their might, but only few are able to conquer our imaginations, enrapture our senses and propel themselves into history.
We salute you champion.
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