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Leo Messi with his hat tricks / MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

Leo Messi is happy, he feels good and that is the best possible news for Barça fans. The Argentine continues to break records in the blaugrana shirt; in November he became the top goalscorer in Spanish League history, overtaking legendary striker Telmo Zarra’s record of 251 goals. At the beginning of March he scored his 32nd hat-trick as a Barça player to move beyond another record held by Zarra, the Athletic Bilbao forward from the 1950’s. His appetite for goals is insatiable and now he is dreaming of adding more trophies to his collection.

You seem happy on and off the field. Is that reflected in your game on the pitch?

Yes, I feel happy. The truth is that I started the season in a different way after what happened to me last season. I had a tough year due to events off the field, injury and my form. But this season I started differently and now I feel good.

I had a tough year due to events off the field, injury and my form. But this season I started differently and now I feel good

After a difficult season last year now you are back to your best: you have scored 41 goals in 38 games (up until the 24th week of the league and before the game against City and the Cup semi-finals), equalling your total for the whole of last season. Are you back to your best?

Like I was saying, I was inconsistent last season. I was out for a while due to injury, missing quite a few games. When I came back I didn’t feel right. It was a year that I have tried to quickly forget to try and get back to my best through hard work, smiling and effort, like I always have and now, fortunately, I feel very good.

Did you take any positives from last year? Perhaps when it comes to putting things in perspective; that you have to make the most of the good times….

Indeed, you learn from everything. Every year I have tried to take positive from wherever to grow and improve. You grown, learn and improve and I took positives from it even thought it was a poor year on the field.

This season you have two strikers alongside you in Neymar and Luis Suárez who help share the responsibility for scoring goals. Does that help to relieve the pressure? Before it seemed that if Messi didn’t score then Barça didn’t win…

The truth is that I never saw it that way and I never felt obliged to score goals because if I didn’t the team would not win. On the contrary, Barça have always had great strikers, not just now with Ney and Luis, who we are making the most of because they are both world class figures. They give us not just goals but also plenty of other things. So for that reason I am calm.

What kind of goals do you like to score? Goals with a great build up, shots from outside the box, free-kicks, goals when you take on defenders ….do you have any preference?

The truth is I don’t have any preference, I like to score any way I can, I don’t care how it goes in, as long as it goes in!

When you score a hat-trick you proudly take the ball home after your team mates sign it. Is it a special souvenir?

I always sign it because I believe it is recognition for the whole team. Without my team mates I would not have achieved all that I have on an individual level and I think that with a hat trick, more than ever, because I depend on them to score goals, so it is a nice souvenir to have them all sign it.

Where do you keep them?

I keep them at home where I keep all my trophies, but I have thought about doing something special with them, something nice with all the footballs. At the moment I have them in glass cases but I am thinking about doing something so that they have a more special place.

Do you remember all the hat-tricks that you have scored?

Right now, as we speak, no. I need to see the goals again or for somebody to tell me something about them to actually remember them.

But, is there one that you particularly enjoyed?

The one I scored against Real Madrid when we drew 3-3 at Camp Nou was very special for me, for what it meant in the game and because for me it was my first hat trick and it kept us ahead in the league. Even though at the end we didn’t win the league, at that moment it was important and also because it was against Real Madrid.

The one I scored against Real Madrid when we drew 3-3 at Camp Nou was very special for me

When you shoot on goal, do you do it instinctively?

Yes, because in a game it all happens quickly and you don’t have time to think if you should shoot with the left or the right; you look for the quickest solution in each situation.

Which congratulation or comment from an opponent has made you most happy after a goal or a hat trick?

I remember, in the game against Real Madrid [in 2007], when the match ended Raúl came up to me to congratulate me. He said a few things to me that, at that moment for me were very nice, because of who Rául was, for what that game meant, so the truth is I always remember that.

You are 27 years of age, you are an adult, at your peak as a player. That lad who came to La Masia at 13 has become the best player in the world…..What do you see when you look back?

In a sporting sense, you don’t think about looking back because everything happens so quickly, there are so many things to play for, there are always new goals and I don’t look back. It happens more in life off the field when I am at home with my wife and my son. We know each other from when we were little so sometimes we remember things that have happened to us and we see how time has passed, how we grow, how life is. I think on the field it’s more difficult and until I end my career I won’t be able to stop and think about what I have achieved.

Your son, Thiago, is now two year old. You are now an experience father. How has that changed you? Has it helped you mature? Does it show out on the field?

Change, it has changed everything. He comes first, the rest after. It has changed me with regards to how I see a game. Before, if I lost or did something wrong, I wouldn’t talk to anyone for three or four days until the madness passed. Now if I lose a game, I get home and see my son and it all passes me by. The anger stays on the inside, seeing him changes everything. Being a father has helped me to grow, and I think it is part of maturing. It has helped me not go crazy because of football and to think that there are other things in life as well.

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