A number of figures from the life of Lionel Messi have recalled their first impressions of the Barcelona superstar.
The interviews were conducted for an article in the magazine XL Semenal about Messi, who recently eclipsed Gerd Muller’s record of goals scored in a calendar year and is favourite to win the 2012 FIFA Ballon d’Or.
“Some associates of mine saw Leo in Argentina when he was 11 years old,” said Horacio Gaggioli, who acted as the players agent until 2005, when Jorge Messi began representing his son.
“They said he was very good and I wanted him to come to Spain, but I had to find a team with very specific characteristics, a city where he could continue his hormone growth treatment, which was expensive.
“When I saw Leo get off the plane I was open mouthed. I thought I was in trouble for doing all this for a boy who was so short and thin!”
Former Argentina midfelder Juan Sebastian Veron, who was Messi’s roommate at the 2012 World Cup, revealed the only occasion he had seen the Barca forward nervous.
“I only saw him nervous once, and that was before the Greece game when [Diego] Maradona offered him the captaincy. It was the responsibility of the leadership that made him uncomfortable, as he realised he had to give a speech to his teammates.”
Lucas Scaglia, now a player for Once Caldas in Colombia, was a childhood friend of Messi’s and witnessed the difficulty he endured with the hormone treatment.
“I’ve known him forever, he’s a great player and a better person. He had to be injected with a hypodermic needle in each leg, but he never cried.”