It feels like a lifetime ago since Lionel Messi came bursting on the scene at Barcelona, but Samuel Eto'o was one of the players who noticed his immediate potential.
The 37-year-old Cameroonian striker had the opportunity to play alongside the Argentine magician, from his emergence in Barça's senior team up to the point when he left the Camp Nou in 2009 for Inter Milan.
So, when the former Chelsea star spoke to Patrick Vieira about the Barcelona forward before he played against him, he wasn't messing around.
Speaking in the Take the Ball, Pass the
Ball documentary, Eto'o recalled what he told the former Arsenal player before
he stepped onto the pitch with Messi in the 2005 Joan Gamper Trophy match.
"I told him one day it would seem like every player who came before Messi was playing a different sport," he said (via the Guardian).
Vieira probably came to believe the hype after he saw the man himself in action.
There is no denying that then-Juve manager Fabio Capello did, who was blown away by the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.
"In my entire life, I have never seen a player of such quality and personality at such a young age, particularly wearing the 'heavy' shirt of one of the world's great clubs," he said (via Goal).
"That guy can do whatever he wants with the ball. It's impressive winning a world youth title this summer, but this was outstanding -- this was playing with men, not against kids his own age."
According to Barcelona's website, the 72-year-old Italian manager said that he has "never seen a player of such quality."
Is Messi the best player of all time?
Let us know in the comments.
- Samuel Eto'o's Incredible Message To Patrick Vieira Before He Played Against A Young Lionel Messi In 2005
- Eto’o Recalls His Message To Vieira Before He Played Against Messi In 2005
- Samuel Eto'o Names Lionel Messi's Ballon d'Or Successor For 'The Next 10-15 Years'
- Lionel Messi opens 2022 World Cup account against Saudi Arabia with the coolest penalty