Pep Guardiola has recently spoken about meeting Lionel Messi for the first time. The Manchester City boss took over as Barcelona coach in 2008.
Guardiola, speaking to Catalunya Ràdio, recalled meeting the Argentine in his early days at Barça.
“They had told me, in the academy there is an exceptionally talented kid. They told me he was very small, but he gave you lots of goals and he dribbled very well. I did not know him, and one day I saw him with his father in a Nike shop in El Prat. I saw him as small and shy, and I asked myself, ‘is this guy as good as they say?’”
While Messi in that time was becoming a sensation, he was far from the established star he would become. Messi had scored 16 goals in all competitions in 2007-08 in a team that finished a distant third in La Liga, a good return for a 20 year old but far from the astronomical heights he would reach soon after.
“We started the season in Scotland, we were winning 6-1, 5-0, and he would score three goals,” Guardiola mentioned, referencing pre-season friendlies that year.
Barcelona defeated Hibernian 6-0 with one goal from Messi and Dundee United 5-1 with a Messi hat-trick.
At that point, Guardiola says, he started to think: “With him, we will win it all.”
That’s exactly what they did, winning the treble that season.