18 Years Ago Today, Lionel Messi Signed A Napkin And The Rest Is History
It's one of the most important documents in football history but Lionel Messi's first Barcelona contract was actually written on a napkin 18 years ago.
A 13-year old Messi arrived at Barca in September 2000 and blew people away with what he could do with the ball at his feet.
But though he was promised a deal when he and his family headed back home, the decision on whether or not the Blaugrana would sign the Rosario youngster didn't come until December when several Barcelona officials and those with ties to the club had lunch.
This picture here is of a 13 y.o. Lionel Messi's first professional contract; on a paper napkin. Carles Rexach, Barcelona's manager, didn't have any paper nearby, but his urgency to sign Messi made him write the contract on a napkin lying around him.- Iconic Football Photos:tm: (@IconicFP) August 8, 2018
[14 Dec, 2000; Barcelona] #7 pic.twitter.com/vyhcTOiwbC
As per Sport, technical secretary Carles Rexach and Horacio Gaggioli, who was Messi's contact in Spain and had threatened to offer the player to Real Madrid, played tennis and then had lunch with Josep Maria Minguella, another agent with links to Barca.
Joan Gaspart, Barca's president at the time, thought there were some risks in signing Messi but Rexach elected to write out the following contract on the napkin, signed by all three members present.
"In Barcelona, on December 14, 2000 and in the presence of Messrs. Minguella and Horacio, Carlos Rexach, Technical Secretary of F.C.B. is committed under his responsibility and despite some opinions against signing the player Lionel Messi as long as we maintain the agreed amounts."
Everything became official from then on and Messi started his journey in Catalonia, turning out for the youth sides, C and B teams before making the step up to the first-team.
The Argentine genius took to the field for the Blaugrana in a friendly against a Porto side managed by Jose Mourinho, aged 16 years, four months, and 23 days old, on 16 November 2003.
16 October 2004 is the date that saw Messi make his official first-team bow. In an away derby against Catalan rivals Espanyol, with 34,400 fans in attendance, he came on in the 82nd minute, replacing eventual match-winner Deco and making a bright cameo.
Just the five Ballon d'Ors, nine La Liga titles, six Copa Del Reys, four Champions Leagues and 566 goals for Barcelona since then.
And it all started with a napkin.