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October 16 will always be a magical date for Barça fans. This was the day in 2004 when Leo Messi made his debut for FC Barcelona.
It was a league match at the Olympic Stadium, Montjuic, where RCD Espanyol were playing home games at the time. With eight minutes to go, he came on for the scorer of the only goal that day, Deco.
A lot had been said about the dazzling young Argentinian in the B team, but nobody could have predicted that that 17-year-old substitute was going to go to become, quite simply, the greatest footballer to ever grace the game.
Goals, goals, goals…
16 years later and the legend has been enshrined. In 734 games for the team he has scored 635 goals – the kind of figure that very few players have ever come close to, let alone playing at the very highest level.
From his first ever goal against Albacete to the one he scored against Villarreal the other day, we have seen a bit of everything, from hat-tricks against Real Madrid to his astonishing header in the Champions League Final in Rome.
He’s won 34 major trophies in the greatest era Barça has ever had, and his individual accolades include a record six Ballon d’Or, seven Pichichis and six Golden Shoes, as well as becoming the only footballer to ever win the Laureus Sportsman of the Year.
And a rarity in our modern age, Messi is also a one-club man. At FC Barcelona we have been treated to every one of his 17 seasons of magic. There has never been a player like him and there may never be one like him again. That’s why October 16 will always be a red-letter-day in any Culer calendar.
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