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Featured Image Credit: Image: FC Barcelona
17 years ago today, Lionel Messi made his first-team debut for Barcelona in a game-changing moment.
Messi had taken to the field for Barcelona in a friendly against Jose Mourinho's Porto side, aged 16 years, four months, and 23 days old on 16 November 2003, and he was already turning out for the Barcelona 'B' team in next-to-no time.
A single training session with the first-team squad led the great Ronaldinho to believe that Messi would surpass him, and it wasn't long before he was fast-tracked into the Blaugrana's star-studded side.
16 October 2004 is the date that saw Messi introduced to the footballing world.
In an away derby against Catalan rivals Espanyol, with 34,400 fans in attendance, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner entered the fray in the 82nd minute, replacing eventual match-winner Deco and making a bright cameo.
Aged 17 years, three months and 22 days, and wearing the No.30 shirt on the right flank, Messi didn't manage to score or register an assist in the 1-0 but as you'll see in the below clip, there were plenty of impressive touches and passages of play that then went on to become features of Messi's game as his burgeoning talents improved to an extraordinary level.
In a glittering stint at the Nou Camp, Messi scored a record-breaking 672 goals and won 10 La Liga titles, 6 Copa del Reys, 4 Champions League and three Club World Cups.
He ended a 21-year association with the Blaugrana this summer after La Liga refused to accept his new contract.
Messi had agreed a 50 per cent wage cut but the club's financial difficulties meant he said an emotional goodbye and left on a free transfer for Paris Saint-Germain.
He did it all at Barcelona but during his farewell in August, Messi revealed his one regret at his beloved club.
"I would have liked to have tried to won another Champions League," Messi told reporters in a press conference.
"We got knocked out in the semi-final against Liverpool, which stopped us getting to another final.
"We got to the semi-final against Chelsea with Pep [Guardiola] and they prevented us from getting to a final. There could
have been a time where we won another Champions League, but that's football."