13 Years Ago Today Lionel Messi Made His Debut

Josh Lawless

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14 years today, Lionel Messi made his debut in La Liga and football has never been the same.

The Argentine genius had taken to the field for Barcelona in a friendly against Jose Mourinho's Porto side, aged 16 years, four months, and 23 days old, on 16 November 2003, and he was already turning out for the Barcelona 'B' team in no time.

A single training session with the first-team squad let the great Ronaldinho to believe that Messi would surpass him, and it wasn't long before he was fast-tracked into the Blaugrana's star-studded side.

16 October 2004 is the date that saw Messi make his first-team bow. In an away derby against Catalan rivals Espanyol, with 34,400 fans in attendance, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner entered the fray in the 82nd minute, replacing eventual match-winner Deco and making a bright cameo.

Aged 17 years, three months and 22 days, and wearing the No.30 shirt on the right flank, Messi didn't manage to score or register an assist in the 1-0 but as you'll see in the above clip, there were plenty of impressive touches and passages of play that then went on to become features of Messi's game as his burgeoning talents improved to an extraordinary level.

After his debut, Messi had to wait seven months before he got on the scoresheet for the Blaugrana but it was well worth the wait.

With Ronaldinho still firmly seated on his throne at the Camp Nou, the Brazilian was well aware that his true heir was playing alongside him.

And in a 2-0 win over Albacete, the 2005 Ballon d'Or winner set up Messi's first of many goals at the Nou Camp.

Replacing goalscorer Samuel Eto'o, Messi soon had the ball in the back of the net, latching onto a deliciously scooped Ronaldinho through ball. The effort was incorrectly ruled out for offside, however and it appeared the 17-year-old would have to wait until his next match to try and attempt to become Barcelona's youngest ever goal scorer.

But that wasn't the case. Just moments later, virtually the same goal was scored, as Ronaldinho threaded through his prodigy, and he confidently lofted the ball over the goalkeeper before wheeling away in celebration.

Just the five Ballon d'Ors, eight La Liga titles, four Copa Del Reys, four Champions Leagues and 521 goals for Barcelona since then. He's done alright, hasn't he?

Josh Lawless

Josh is a sports journalist who specialises in football and wrestling. He has been published by Curzon Ashton FC, Late Tackle, Manchester City FC, The Mirror, Read Man City and Manchester Evening News. He provides coverage of professional wrestling and has interviewed some of the biggest names in the field - including the first UK interview with The Hardy Boyz after their return to WWE. He has never sported a pair of Lonsdale Slip-ons, contrary to reports.
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