This Retrospective Takes a Look Back at Messi’s Soccer Beginnings, As Told By His Former Teammates

Lead Photo: Lionel Messi at the Brasil Global Tour match. Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images
Lionel Messi at the Brasil Global Tour match. Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images
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It’s no secret that Lionel Messi is one of the greatest–if not THE greatest–soccer players of all time. Since he was a young boy, Messi has thrilled anyone that has had the pleasure of watching him step onto the pitch. With his 30th birthday looming on Saturday, Bleacher Report talked to Messi’s teammates and coaches at his first club, Newell’s Old Boys.

Messi first joined Newell’s at the tender age of 6, but it was his destiny from the time he was born. For his first birthday, his uncles and aunts gave him a red-and-black Newell’s jersey, and both his older brothers played youth-team football for the club.

In the young Messi’s debut, a 6-0 victory, he sunk 4 goals and began blazing a path towards history. Dubbed “La Maquina del ’87,” the Messi-led Newell’s squad became Argentina’s most famous youth team. According to the team’s former striker Franco Falleroni, in 2000 Newell’s won their championship by at least 20 points. “In five or six seasons, we only lost about three times,” recalls another of Messi’s teammates, Gonzalo Mazzia. They would run the score up so bad, a 6-0 mercy rule was instituted.

At the center of the success was Messi who, according to his former coach Adrian Coria, scored “at least” 500 goals with the club before leaving for Barcelona at 13. “He used to go crazy when he couldn’t score a goal,” said Falleroni. “He was a very ambitious guy. Even if he won—if the team won 7-0—but he didn’t score a goal, he got angry. Or if he didn’t get passed the ball, he got angry. You could see it in his face. That’s his temperament, his personality. He always wanted the ball.”

It wasn’t hard for Messi; he was addicted to the game since he could walk. “He is crazy about football. He has been since he was very young. He thought all the time about the ball, how to dribble other players, how to solve a situation. Every day, he trained to be better. He always wanted more, more, more. He put football before everything,” said Bruno Milanesio, a defender from those Newell’s teams.

You can read the full retrospective on young Messi’s achievements at Bleacher Report.