Messi: “This squad doesn’t need a leader”

Messi: “This squad doesn’t need a leader”

At the conclusion of being awarded the Golden Boot, the humble and well-composed Lionel Messi met with Spanish daily national newspaper, Marca. The interview talks about him growing up, one of his football idols, and how Tito has affected him from La Masia until now.  Details after the jump.

“I have memories from when I was very small, three or four years old, playing in a neighbourhood team”, [Messi] begins.

Was it there, in your neighbourhood, that you learnt to avoid getting kicked?

I’ve had the same style and the same way of playing since I was small. The truth is that, then, I didn’t think about the kicks I was getting.

Does starting out at Barcelona bring back good memories or unpleasant ones?

Both. On the one hand, happy ones; about how it was living in Barcelona where everything was new to me. On the other, it was hard because I was far away from my family and friends. Also, I couldn’t play at the start because I was injured and also had problems with my papers. It was tough at the beginning.

Which player was your role model?

I’ve always admired Aimar. He came from River and I liked the way he played. I always followed him.

Did you get picked on because you were small?

I’ve never had any problems about my height. I was always the smallest at school and in football.

You didn’t have starter status until you trained at the academy under Tito. Did you think about giving it all up?

No, never. I always thought about keeping going with training and working towards my fulfilling my dreams. I was lucky that, when Tito arrived, I started to play.

In what ways has Tito changed?

He’s the same person that coached us in the youth team. I was young then and I don’t remember much but he’s still the same way and he treated us the same as he does now.

Did you play as a false ‘9’ then?

There was a different system. We played with a striker and I was positioned behind him, with another two players out wide on the wings. I was already an attacking midfielder. You can’t say that the false striker was created there; it was another way of playing.

You take the lead in making assists now, were you a selfish player before?

I’ve never considered myself as a selfish player although there have been people who have thought so.

Are you taking the role of leader with Guardiola having left?

I feel the same as I did in other years. Everyone knows their role and this squad doesn’t need a leader with the kind of people there are in it.

You give the feeling that you play for the glory, for something greater, competing with Pelé and Maradona every day.

I try to improve every day. If, with that, people compare me to those two players who were so great and are still considered to be today, that’s something amazing and really nice.

And what if your son, Thiago, becomes a Rosario Central or River supporter?

I don’t think that’ll happen.

Would you advise him to be a footballer?

He should be what he wants to be. When he grows up he’ll work out what he wants and whatever he chooses will be fine with me, with his Mum and with everyone.

The original interview can be found here.

Image: REUTERS/Don Balon/Handout