Fabio Capello is one of the best coaches in the world, and also one of the first to recognize Messi’s extraordinary talent. Barcelona was playing a friendly match against Juventus, and Messi was the star of the game.
He lacked the power to stay on his feet when the huge Juventus defenders were all over him. Nonetheless, he was still impressive. He was a work in progress. However, his dribbling skills were explosive, even back then.
He wasn’t as good at shooting as he is today, but he still has the recognizable body dribbling moves. The whole Juventus team was struggling to keep up with the young Argentinian, but Capello was impressed.
He even approached Frank Rijkaard to ask about the option of loaning Messi to Juventus. Of course, Rijkaard said no because he knew what Messi is capable of. He was still young and needed to fight for a place in the starting eleven.
But that fact that he scored a hat-trick against R. Madrid when he was only 19 years old convinced Rijkaard that he was the next best thing.
Many young talents lack the consistency to perform at high level. The game against Juventus could be looked as top form, or maybe he just got lucky?
But a hat-trick against R. Madrid is something different. Messi never lacked the consistency of playing at top level. He can sometimes be quiet for 70 minutes, and explode in the last 20. That’s what being number one is all about!
Messi on Capello’s comment:
“It was incredible to hear that he had said that. He’s a coach who has won so much and it was very nice that he should say that about me.” – Source.
In the interview you’re about to read, Messi talks about his first football memories and life in Barcelona.
His first football memory
“My first memories are from when I was very little, maybe three or four years old playing in my neighbourhood at home. I can picture myself with the ball at my feet from a very young age.”
About his first weeks and months at Barcelona
“I was happy to be living in Barcelona and experiencing all those new things. On the other hand, it was hard to be so far away from people. I had to start again, new team-mates, new friends. I also couldn’t play at first because of injury and because there were problems with the paperwork. That start was hard.”
“I always admired [Pablo] Aimar; he came from River and I followed him a lot.”
His playing style
“My style of play has always been the same. I never tried to develop a specific style. From very young I just played this way. What is certainly true is that I learnt a lot in the youth system. The way we worked here was different.”
“There was a lot of contact with the ball and a lot of work on the tactical system. I came from Argentina where we didn’t do anything like that. Over there it was lots of running and not much more.” – Source.