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Lionel Messi made his Barcelona debut wearing Nike but brand lost out to Adidas in move that cost them billions

Josh Lawless

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Lionel Messi made his Barcelona debut wearing Nike but brand lost out to Adidas in move that cost them billions

16 October 2004 will go down as one of the most important dates in football history, as seven-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi made his professional debut for Barcelona.

Messi, aged 17 and with floppy hair, replaced Deco in the second half of a 1-0 win over Catalan rivals Espanyol.

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The Argentine entered the fray wearing the No.30 shirt and with Nike Total 90's.

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The image almost looks photoshopped given that Messi is the face of Adidas, who he has a lucrative lifetime contract with.

Image: Getty
Image: Getty

He signed with the German sportswear giants in 2006 but prior to the World Cup in Germany, he had actually been with Nike since the age of 14.

The book 'Messi vs. Ronaldo: One Rivalry, Two GOATs, and the Era That Remade the World’s Game, serialised by the Wall Street Journal, claims that Nike held a photo shoot with Messi ahead of a proposed marketing campaign.

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However, they received a phone call from Messi's representatives asking them to drop the pictures, and informing them that he had signed elsewhere.

Image: Getty
Image: Getty

The story goes that a key factor in the switch was Nike missing a request from Messi's father Jorge, for more tracksuits.

Nike's Iberian and South American operations did not get back to him and the book claims the demand not being met 'soured' relations.

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Nike also didn't want to enter a bidding war with Adidas, which helped sway the decision.

Image: Getty
Image: Getty

The swoosh company claimed they had a 'binding agreement' with the player, and it went to court, where Spanish judges ruled that they only had a "commitment letter".

Messi has worn Adidas since February 2006 and is easily their biggest asset.

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He gets a cut of the Adidas Inter Miami shirts which have experienced unprecedented demand.

Forbes say Messi's move to the MLS resulted in Adidas' share prices increasing by 30 percent and their market cap rising by around $10 billion.

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Featured Image Credit: Getty

Topics: Lionel Messi, Barcelona, Adidas, Nike

Josh Lawless
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