Who would have known the 13-year-old kid that stepped Barcelona for the first time on 18 September 2000 will become the greatest player ever to play the game. Lionel Messi arrived in Barcelona on this day 16 years ago in order to get a trial at the club. He was a boy with extraordinary footballing talent but suffering from growth hormone deficiency disease. This disease restricted his playing time due to lack of stamina. He was weak and lacked height and physical strength as well. His father, a factory worker, and mother, a maid, were poor and didn’t afford to pay for his treatment. So they offered him to FC Barcelona on the condition if they would agree to pay for his treatment. This was the start of Leo’s legendary career at Barcelona.
Jorge and Lionel Messi arrived in Barcelona on the afternoon of 18th September 2000. It was Leo’s first time in Spain. After the 6 hours of his arrival, Barcelona accepted a trial and asked him to play with his age group. Due to his disease, he was short and skinny as compared to the kids he was playing with. One of his you team colleague Marc Pedraza talked about the first time he had a session with Leo:
“That day when Leo arrived, and we saw small he was, how skinny he was, we thought we were going to eat him.”
This was his first thoughts after watching Leo’s size.
”But when he touched the ball, we saw he was a phenomenon. It was impossible to get the ball off him.”
Everyone at the club was impressed by this young lad’s performance. But Barcelona didn’t give any official words on signing him and paying for his treatment. Messi and his father were kept waiting for 3 months when one day his father lost his patience. Jorge Messi met with the technical director of the club Carles Rexach for a dinner where he asked him for a straight forward answer. He understood how special Messi was and wanted to secure him for the sake of club’s future.
Carles promised a contract right away but couldn’t find anything to write. So he asked a waiter for a pen and wrote the contract on a napkin. The contract was then verified and Messi grew up in the La Masia academy away from his family. Even though he was gifted enough, he grew better at the academy. His medical treatment was successful and he was no more a patient.
At the age of 16, Messi was offered an official contract by the club made his debut for the first team in 2004/05 season. He grew under the guidance of Ronaldinho and coach Frank Rijkaard and soon became the part of the first team. Since the arrival of Pep Guardiola to Barcelona, Messi has risen to his full potential and has almost broken every record in the football world. He is kind of a player that comes once in a lifetime and surely the greatest among the legends.