Lionel Messi says the arrival of Tito Vilanova to coach at Barcelona’s youth academy changed his career.
The Argentine international spoke to Marca after collecting the Golden Boot award in Barcelona, having been Europe’s top scorer last season with 50 La Liga goals, and told of his time when he arrived at the club as a youngster.
“I learned a lot in grassroots football because it was different working here, touching the ball and using a tactical system.
“I had come from Argentina, where we did nothing like that, as everything was running and little else.
“So I was lucky that when Tito arrived I started to play and from then my career with the youth teams changed. Tito is the same person who coached us when we were youngsters. He treats everyone the same,” explained Messi.
Asked about some of his teammates, Messi was quick to praise the work of both Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta.
“Xavi is a great player who does many good things. He never loses the ball, has good vision and makes the whole team play while controlling the game. He has so many great qualities it’s hard to choose one.
“He is very similar to Iniesta. Perhaps Andres has the capacity to score more goals as he arrives late in the box, but in all other aspects they are equal.
“Andres also has vision and, when he wants, the team plays around him. When he and Xavi are on the pitch it is very difficult for the other team to get the ball off them.”
On his role in the team, Messi made it clear.
“I’m not an extra central midfielder and I do what is best for the team at all times. We want to win, even in training, and that means we have a hunger from the start to win more trophies.”
Finally, he signalled his intent to keep on improving and ‘at the end of my career I’ll see what I did. Then the people can judge’.