Defender Who Marked Lionel Messi On Debut Says 'He Wasn't Anything Special'
When a skinny, floppy-haired teenager from Rosario in Argentina made his first-team debut for Barcelona on 16 October 2004, not many could have predicted he would become the greatest player on the planet.
In fact, David Garcia, the first to mark Messi in a competitive fixture, did not think he was up too much when he faced him.
The 38-year old spent 12 years at Espanyol and later came up against Messi in a number of Catalan derbies. But his first impression of the 17-year old, taken from an eight minute cameo, wasn't all that great.
"It was normal [marking Messi that day], he was not what he is now, despite his innate talent," Garcia told Goal.
"Today he is confident and has grown a lot - nothing like what he was in that game. I don't remember anything special about marking him, it was like defending against any other player."
15 years ago on from his debut, Messi has gone on to score a staggering 604 goals in 692 appearances, as well as chipping in with 233 assists.
:date: #OnThisDay in 2004, it all started...- LaLiga (@LaLigaEN) October 16, 2019
:shirt: 455 matches
:soccer: 420 goals
:athletic_shoe: 162 assists
:crown: 10 #LaLiga titles
Today we're celebrating :one::five: years since LEO MESSI's debut in #LaLigaSantander!
:blue_heart: @FCBarcelona :heart: pic.twitter.com/0R7Gfb0Voa
He's won 10 La Liga titles, 6 Copa del Reys, 4 Champions League and three Club World Cups, cementing his place as Barca's greatest player and perhaps the best ever to kick a ball about for a living.
Garcia would add that he did not expect Messi to become the all-conquering mercurial genius that we see strut his stuff in front of us today.
"I sensed that he would be a very good player but not what he has become," the 38-year old explained.
"The truth is that at that time I did not think about what he was going to be.
"I thought that, like many boys from Espanyol or Barcelona, he was fulfilling the dream of debuting with his team being so young but on the pitch, you don't think about that."