1. On a paper napkin, Lionel Messi signed his first Barcelona contract.
Most people use paper napkins, discard them, and then forget about them. However, Barcelona was clearly not disposing of this paper napkin after use.They had just signed 13-year-old Lionel Messi on December 14th, 2000. Carles Rexach, a former Barcelona player and current Barcelona executive, made this quick decision while dining out with Messi’s contact in Spain, Horacio Gaggioli, who threatened to offer the Argentine to Real Madrid, who were also interested. Josep Maria Minguella, a player agent who had brought some players to Barcelona, Joan Gaspart, the club’s president at the time, and the other guests Rexach scribbled the following on a paper napkin that a waitress had given him:
“Carlos Rexach, Technical Secretary of the F.C.B., is committed under his duty and despite various views against signing the player Lionel Messi as long as we keep the agreed amounts,” the statement reads in Barcelona on December 14, 2000, in the presence of Messrs. Minguella and Horacio (rough translation).
After that, Rexach, Minguella, and Gaggioli all signed the napkin. The napkin, which is still legally held by Gaggioli despite alleged offers of millions of dollars to purchase it, is kept in a safe at the Credit Andorra Bank. Gaggioli is determined that it won’t be sold and will only consider lending it to the Barcelona museum to display among the Ballon d’Ors won by Argentina. The museum would not get it, he said, “until Messi retires or leaves the club.”
Messi leaving the Catalan giants means that the paperwork will probably be
Only after his retirement, which we hope won’t happen anytime soon, will money be lent.
2. Ronaldinho provided a helping hand for Messi’s first Barcelona goal.
When Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard substituted 17-year-old Lionel Messi in the 85th minute with the score at 1-0 in favor of Barcelona, the Brazilian wizard, who was then donning the number 10 jersey, was playing against Albacete. The Brazilian chipped the ball up to Messi in the 90th minute, who dutifully completed it to score his first goal for Barcelona. Messi was taken under Ronaldinho’s wing, and he treated him almost like a big brother, pushing him to be the best version of himself. Messi seemed to have followed the icon’s instructions. Messi adopted the Brazilian’s number 10 jersey when he left Barcelona in 2008.
3. Barcelona almost traded Messi in 2006.
In 2006, Inter Milan of Italy was prepared to pay the then 18-year-old’s enormous €150 million release clause, which would have made him the most expensive player in history and nearly doubled the previous record of €76 million set by Real Madrid to acquire Zinedine Zidane in 2001. However, at the time, the player had only played 25 matches for the Barcelona senior team that season. They reportedly offered to treble Messi’s salary, but he turned them down. If the Argentine had chosen to join Serie A’s Inter Milan instead, his career would have taken a completely different turn.
4. Lionel Messi had the opportunity to compete for the Spanish national team.
The Spanish Football Federation contacted Messi and asked him to declare for the Spanish national team rather than the Argentine one, adding to the choices that may have altered the trajectory of his career. Messi turned down the opportunity in favor of continuing his dedication to his quest to join the Argentina national squad. He undoubtedly would have made a significant contribution to Spain’s legendary 2008–2012 squad, which won the 2008 and 2012 Euros as well as the 2010 World Cup. But he went with Argentina, a team with whom he had won the Copa America, and the Finalissima against Italy for the first time. Since the legendary Diego Maradona, he is unquestionably the finest player in the nation.
5. Messi had a memorable international debut.
Unique for all the wrong reasons! On August 17, 2005, the Argentine was sent on as a replacement against Hungary in a friendly, and he was dismissed after just 45 seconds. Despite appeals from his Argentina teammates, he was ordered by the referee to leave the field of play after being found guilty of elbowing a Hungary defender as he dribbled toward goal. It was disappointing for him, but he kept going and is currently the captain, top appearance maker, and top goal scorer for the Argentina national team.