On this day in 2004 a certain Lionel Messi made his debut for Barcelona.
What would follow for the diminutive Argentine is something nobody could ever have predicted.
His inaugural outing for Barca was a humble nine-minutes-long cameo against Espanyol 14-years ago.
The Catalan side laboured to a 1-0 victory on the day and Messi’s La Liga career was up and running with a bang.
It might have just been the start of something very special for arguably the greatest player ever, however there were no shortage of subplots on the day.
Here are five things you never knew about Messi’s Barcelona debut…
1 He came up against Mauricio Pochettino
To England fans, the playing career of the Spurs manager can be condensed down into him fouling Michael Owen for *that* penalty in 2002.
It turns out however that Pochettino was a fairly decent defender back in the day, especially during his time with Espanyol.
The Argentine had three spells with the La Liga side and was one of the first defenders who Messi came face-to-face with.
Following his arrival in the 82nd minute, some slack defending from Pochettino almost presented Messi with a one-on-one opportunity.
Pochettino has since revealed the Messi came agonisingly close to joining Espanyol when his Barca career was still in it’s infancy.
Spurs fans will tell you that their friendship will see him play in north London one day.
2 Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Messi are the only ones still playing today
2004 was only like 5 years ago, right? Wrong.
We hate to break it to you but your childhood is over and all of your footballing heroes have ankles like spaghetti.
Of the 27 players, including subs, who featured on the day, Messi, Iniesta and Xavi are the only ones still playing football today.
The metronome Spaniard is still plugging away for Al Sadd in Qatar at the ripe old age of 38.
Iniesta is still making defenders look silly in the J-League with Vissel Kobe.
3 His shirt number was textbook youth player
That’s right, there was once a time when Messi didn’t wear No10. Can you believe it?
The prestigious jersey was held by none other than Ronaldinho at the time and a fresh-faced La Masia alumni wasn’t about to snatch it off him.
Messi knew he had to bide his time to one day get the number of his dreams.
He donned No30 for 23 games, before taking up the No19 in 2006 for 87 games.
Upon his departure, Ronaldinho handed over his iconic number to Barca’s future talisman.
The rest is history.
4 Messi wasn’t even the most promising La Masia graduate in the squad
Cristian Hidalgo, does that name mean anything to you? No? We didn’t think so.
At one point in time the Spaniard was the most exciting young player in La Liga.
Hidalgo had been through the ranks at Barca, scoring goals for fun in both the C and B teams for the Catalan giants.
Sadly however, Messi’s emergence saw his career at the Nou Camp come to a grinding holt.
The Argentine’s performances gave Barca the confidence to let Hidalgo leave on a free to Deportivo in 2006.
Spells with Hercules and Elche then followed, before he ended up at Ceahlaul in the Romanian league.
What could have been.
5 He replaced Deco and the symmetry was brilliant
Messi’s introduction to the pitch came after 82 minutes as he replaced Deco.
The Portuguese midfielder was at the peak of his powers back then and the change was a clear nod to the future.
The significance of Messi replacing Deco could perhaps be understated until you take a look at the Portuguese star’s testimonial match.
Messi came on at the same time as Deco in the latter’s farewell outing in 2014.
The pair even combined expertly, with Messi assisting Deco to score in the second-half.
Prepare to shed a tear as you watch where it all began…
READ MORE FROM THE WEIRD AND WONDERFUL WORLD OF DREAM TEAM:
- The pivotal moments in Messi’s career as told through his football boots
- Why Athletic Bilbao are the hardest club in the world to buy players from
- Let us tell you about the time Cristiano Ronaldo missed out on the Golden Boot after scoring 46 league goals
WATCH: Love of the Game – Part 2