The best quotes about Lionel Messi's 10 years at Barcelona
In celebration the 10th anniversary of Lionel Messi's Barcelona debut, Dermot Corrigan has compiled the best quotes about the Argentinian since his introduction to senior football a decade ago.
1. Barcelona's then-manager, Frank Rijkaard, at a news conference after Messi's La Liga debut, versus Espanyol on October 16, 2004:
"Putting him on was not a prize [for good work in training]. We put him on for his quality and because I saw Deco a little tired. Messi is a lefty, he is a very good dribbler coming inside, and he can shoot with his left foot."
2. Henk Ten Cate, Barcelona assistant coach on the day of Messi's first-team debut -- a friendly versus Porto on November 16, 2003 -- from the book "Messi," by Guillem Balague:
"It seemed as if he had been playing with us all his life, his movement was so natural. The first time the ball came to him he created a scoring chance. The second time he nearly scored. If you are 15 or 16 in a game like that against Porto, at the opening of a new stadium full of people, and you do all that, it is because you are something special. Frank [Rijkaard] and I looked at each other: 'What the f---? Did you see that?'"
3. His mother, Celia Messi, on Canal Plus TV show "Informe Robinson" in December 2007:
"When he was small, at home he was very mischievous. We used to play cards and no one wanted to play with him because we knew that sooner or later he would cheat. He was very spoilt ... he was like a prince among his friends, they all loved him, he was a leader among them for how he managed the ball. He shone."
4. Mundo Deportivo writer Begona Villarrubia after Messi's first goal against Albacete in May 2005:
"It is difficult to imagine a better crowning jewel for a season in which he has been always training with the first team, although he has played almost all the youth team games. Messi now feels that the La Liga title which with all probability Barca will win as his own."
5. Diego Maradona after the hat trick in a 3-3 draw versus Real Madrid in March 2007:
"I already know the player who will take my place in football, and his name is Lionel Messi. He has something different from any other player. He is a leader who is showing an example."
6. Barcelona teammate Deco after Messi's Diego Maradona-style solo goal versus Getafe in April 2007:
"These are the goals that go down in history. It is the most beautiful goal I've ever seen and, don't forget, I've seen Ronaldo, Maradona and Ronaldinho live. Today's goal is perfect. I was so happy for him. He is incredibly humble and oozes quality. At 18 he was at Barcelona, at 19 he scores goals like that. That's impressive."
7. Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson after Messi scored in the 2011 Champions League final:
"Nobody's given us a hiding like that but they deserve it. They play the right way and they enjoy their football. They do mesmerize you with their passing and we never really did control Messi. But many people have said that. In my time as manager, it's the best team I've faced."
8. Former Barca coach Pep Guardiola after Messi broke Cesar Rodriguez's 57-year record as the club's record goal scorer (at the age of just 24) in March 2012:
"Leo has rightfully entered into history. We are witnessing the best [player] in every sense. He does everything, and he does it every three days. He doesn't just score goals, he scores great goals; each one is better than the last. We are seeing the very best in action. I'm sorry for those who try to take his throne but this kid is different, better; we are excited to have him."
9. Manchester United's Wayne Rooney on Twitter while watching Messi score a Champions League-record five goals in one game against Bayer Leverkusen in March 2012:
Messi is a joke. For me the best ever.- Wayne Rooney (@WayneRooney) March 7, 2012
10. Former Real Madrid and Argentina midfielder Santi Solari in El Pais in January 2013 after Messi had won a record fourth Ballon d'Or in a row:
"No other player has combined the competitiveness of professional football with the spontaneity of street football so naturally. No other player is capable of solving tactical conundrums so frequently, as if he were playing just outside his house. Watching Messi is like taking a trip back through time; when he's on the ball he opens a crack which we can peek through to spy on the essence of football."
11. Current Barcelona manager Luis Enrique after Messi's all-around performance and two assists in a 2-0 win versus Athletic Bilbao in September 2014 at Camp Nou:
"Messi is not just the best player in the world for the goals he scores, or for his assists, but for everything. He is the best player in the world even in defence, that is the perfect version of Messi. Messi is outside all praise. He does things you do not see even in Oliver and Benji (a children's cartoon), or the PlayStation, what he does touches the impossible. We have got used to it, but it is a delight and a privilege to have the best player in the world in your team. Without a doubt."
12. Carmen Zarra, daughter of La Liga's previous all-time top goal-scorer Telmo Zarra, as Messi approached the 60-year-old record:
"For sure my father would have been delighted for Messi to break the record. Because he seems a very noble person on and off the pitch. He behaves himself very laudably."
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan