Reuters Soccer Blog
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Ten years ago to the day, Lionel Messi stepped off a plane in Barcelona as a scrawny 13-year-old blessed with extraordinary gifts but in need of a big break.
The club’s decision to take a chance on the kid from Rosario and pay for costly treatment for a growth hormone deficiency turned out to be one of the best decisions they or any other club have taken. According to Barcelona legend, his first contract was signed on a paper napkin after Carles Rexach, then Barca’s youth team coach, was persuaded here was a player he could not afford to let slip away.
A decade on and Messi is, in the eyes of almost everyone, the world’s best player and Barca fans should celebrate Sept. 17 like La Diada de Sant Jordi. Consider the achievements:
*Earned his senior debut at the age of 16 in a friendly against Porto in November 2003.