Lionel Messi is only 26 years old, but today marks 10 years since he made his first appearance in a Barcelona shirt.
The forward from Argentina came on as a substitute in a friendly match against Porto on November 16, 2003. You can watch some highlights of his first match above.
Barcelona have made a television programme to commemorate the occasion, El dia que va debutar el 10 (loosely translated from Catalan as "10: On his debut").
He was 16 years and 145 days old at the time, and he was playing in the Barcelona A Youth team.
According to ESPN, Messi is quoted in the show as saying:
November 16 2003 is a very important date for me, because that’s when I was able to make my childhood dream come true–it was a very happy day for me. I’d fought hard to make that moment happen and it was really special.
I remember that we were training with the Youth A team and when it finished, [team co-ordinator Josep] Colomer talked to me about a few things and then told me that I would be travelling with the first team. He told me that I should just go and enjoy the game and the experience, but when I came back I should concentrate on the Youth A team.
As an interesting aside, it means the first opposition manager Messi faced was the boss of Porto—who, at that time, was none other than Jose Mourinho.
Messi has subsequently become one of football's greatest ever players, winning every major domestic trophy. He has won the last four Ballon d'Or awards.
At present, however, he is currently sidelined for around two months with a thigh injury.
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