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Messi at Camp Nou / MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

“I saw him playing for the Argentina youth team, and he looked like a good player. But it’s something else to see him in this stadium, in that shirt and before so many people. I have never seen a player of such quality”. That was Fabio Capello, manager of Juventus at the time, after seeing Leo Messi perform in the 2005 Joan Gamper Trophy, in which the world took note for the first time of this extraordinary talented young player.

It was 24 August 2005 when the side coached by Frank Rijkaard entertained the current Serie A champions. The game featured the likes of Ronaldinho, Ibrahimovic, Deco and Del Piero, but it was almost unknown 18 year old who grabbed all the attention. Messi’s solo runs, killer passes and shots on goal shone through against one of the finest defences in world football, with players of the calibre of Cannavaro and Vieira.

Capello stunned

Fabio Capello, who admits that he tried to sign Messi for Juve on several occasions, was amazed by the Argentine, who’d go on to make 25 appearances and score eight goals that season as Rijkaard led the side to the Liga and Champions League double. The Gamper match ended 2-2, with Juve winning 4-2 on penalties, but it was not the result that mattered that night. It was the discovery of a player that would go on to win a record four Ballon d’Or trophies.


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