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16 November 2003 is a day that goes down in FC Barcelona history, for it was then that the greatest player ever to wear the famous jersey, and probably any football jersey in the world, played his first ever game for the team. Leo Messi was a mere 16 years old when he came on as a substitute in a friendly against Porto to open the Portuguese club's brand new stadium, Do Dragão.
Coach Frank Rijkaard sent him on the 71st minute as a replacement for Fernando Navarro. There was already considerable expectation regarding the youngster from La Masia, although it is unlikely that anyone predicted at that time just what a superstar he would turn out to be. The GOAT.
20 years on and he has won a record number of Ballon d'Ors, a quite staggering eight, and led Barça through its most glorious period ever, and also won the World Cup with Argentina.
Stats at Barça
Messi wore the blaugrana jersey for 17 seasons, setting a club record with his 778 appearances, and scoring an incredible 672 goals, a simply breathtaking 0.86 per match..
In 2008/09, he was the star of the team that won the treble under Barça, and went on to complete the unprecedented record of wining all six major trophies in the same calendar year. And yet, Messi just kept going and going, rewriting the record books left, right and centre like no player before him. Football may never see anyone quite like him ever again.
Leo Messi and the treble trophies from 2009: Copa del Rey, Champions League and Liga
His trophy haul at Barça included 10 leagues, four Champions League and three Club World Cups, and he also won the Golden Shoe as the top goalscorer in Europe on six different occasions, which goes without saying was yet another all-time record.
Sadly, the Messi-Barça love story came to an end in the summer of 2021, and after two seasons at PSG in France he is now playing for Inter Miami in the United States. But he will never ben forgotten at Barça, the club to which his name will always be associated, and where his heart has always truly belonged.
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