Salvador Aparicio is the man who first coached Messi but modestly denied he 'discovered' the player. Sadly, Aparicio died in 2008 and never got to see Messi reach his full potential - but at least the Grandoli coach got to see the player break into Barcelona's first team and play for the Argentine national side.
Messi was born in Rosario and joined Newell's Old Boys aged six, before leaving his home country to join Barcelona age 13. But before all that, he played for local club Grandoli at the age of just four - where Aparicio was his coach.
Lionel Messi's First Coach- LM10i (@TotalLM10i) April 2, 2021
In an interview conducted shortly before his death, Aparicio recalled first laying eyes on Messi as a young boy.
"Messi and his family once came to watch the match," Aparicio said. "His brothers played here. I was one player short, so I told Messi to come to play.
"He was small. Very small. First time the ball came to him and basically hit his left leg.
"The second time, he controlled the ball and started running across the pitch. He dribbled past everyone crossing his path."
"He scored six or seven goals in every match... He was supernatural, simply put."
This is deep..how one single defining moment changed the course of football history....is it God or fate..so many what ifs..the coach could have ignored him ,the grandmother could have said no too....this man will die knowing he was the first man that put the GOAT on the pitch- TruthTeller (@rubutaino) April 2, 2021
Asked about how it felt to watch the young superstar play for Barcelona or the Argentina national team, Aparicio replied: "I feel like I do now. I cry.
"Do you understand? I get emotional. The other day, he scored a goal against Getafe, they say it was like Maradona against England in the World Cup, but I think Leo is better.
"I cry by just watching him. He is my special one. What can I say? I am proud."
The first coaches are always the proudest :heart: https://t.co/avGkslVw0L- Nihal Rai (@Henrai14) April 3, 2021
Messi's mazy run against Getafe in 2007 - which is indeed eerily similar to Diego Maradona's amazing solo effort in the 1986 World Cup - is still often called Messi's greatest goal.
It's special that at least the proud Aparicio got to see the growth of Messi's career, even if he never lived to see the six-time Ballon d'Or winner reach his full potential as arguably football's greatest ever player.
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