BY OUR REPORTER
Lionel Messi has recalled the day Ronaldinho told him to take his number 10 shirt as the Brazilian was exiting FC Barcelona, SPORT has reported.
“Before he went, he came a few months before and had in his head that he was going, and told me that I had to take his number.I took it without looking what he’d done with my shirt,” said Messi,who inherited the 10 shirt from Ronaldinho in 2008 after being No 30 and No 19, at the request of the Brazilian.
Messi accepted the shirt but without wanting to compare himself to the world class players that had worn it before him. Ronaldinho was to opening a present from Messi, of a No 10 shirt which Messi has signed with the following message: “For my friend with love, a big hug, Leo”.
Messi also recalled how he had been warmly received on his first day in the first team dressing room.
He said: “Those that came up from the B team sat on the other side. The dressing room was a U shape and we were sat in front. The moment arrived where they told me that I had to change side and didn’t have to spend more time there.
“The locker next to Ronaldinho’s had been empty and just had he, Deco and Motta in this sector, and they sat me beside them.
“Truth is that at first it was tough, I said no. That was when he basically told me to sit there.
“They received me in the dressing room, spectacularly. To come into this dressing room was not easy; they made everything much easier for me. I was very comfortable, very free, because of how they let me sit – not just Ronnie but all the dressing room.”
With this gesture, and their links on the pitch and in training, a friendship was born between two players and remains to this day.
“He’s a very simple person, very calm, he sat by my side in the dressing room, we had the opportunity to start a very true friendship, very simple, he’s a great man,” Ronaldinho explained.