Messi Shares His Ballon d’Or With the Kid Captains of Barcelona’s Training Academy

Lionel Messi returned to his roots this week to share his fifth Ballon d’Or and chat with the captains of the fabled Barcelona cantera La Masia. Enough smiles and nervous legend appreciation to last a lifetime.

Messi met with Juanma García, Arnau Comas, Álex Rico, Pablo López, and Pau Primo, captains of Barça’s five youth first teams from U-10 through U-19. He told them that they are “very lucky” to be playing for a club like Barcelona. “This is a rare opportunity not only in football, but in life. Barça gives you the chance to study, to grow and to get an education,” he explained. “I think it’s important for you to make the most out of all of this and then enjoy your football and be as professional about it as you can be.”

When asked to reflect on his time at La Masia, Messi said that it was difficult because it was “such a big change.” He left a lot behind in Argentina, “and unlike other children living at the Masia, I hardly ever got to visit my family,” he went on. “I only saw them once or twice a year and that was very hard for me.”

In relation to comments deeming him the greatest player to ever live, Messi added that “just to hear people saying and thinking that makes me very proud indeed. But I try not to think about it too much and just focus on enjoying everything that I have in this life.”

This is reaching peak cuteness levels that we really didn’t think were possible. It might even top the Chicharito-De Gea bromance. Good on you, Messi.