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Lionel Messi turns 36: A look back on what the legends think of him

Lionel Messi turns 36: A look back on what the legends think of him

DT SPORTS ( SB)- Today marks the 36th birthday of one of the greatest players of his generation, Lionel Andrés Messi – and to commemorate it, it’s worth looking back at what several sporting figures think of this legend of the game.

Lionel Messi has had one of the most illustrious careers in sport, with a career that has spanned 18 years so far and included 807 career goals and 42 trophies – it is no wonder that figures in sports rave about the little magician.

Arsène Wenger was once asked in an interview who the best player in the world was, to which he simply replied: “Lionel Messi.”

He was then asked who the best player in the world was, to which he simply replied: “Lionel Messi.”

Says it all really, as the interview took place during Wenger’s tenure at Arsenal, while Messi was still playing at Barcelona in his 20s.

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Jurgen Klopp spoke on Messi around the time of his Liverpool side’s clash with Barcelona in the 2019 Champions League, where he said: “I don’t want to talk about the other five, Messi for me would be the player that would be number one, that’s me, we have to say that Cristiano Ronaldo is in that as well and all the rest, we have to see.”

Following Manchester United’s 3-1 loss to Barcelona in the 2011 Champions League final where Messi ran the show, Sir Alex Ferguson was asked a question in the post-match conference that stands out as one of his iconic moments with the press.

The journalist asked: “Sir Alex, if the owners of Man United gave you a blank cheque over the summer and allowed you to bring in one, just one of Barcelona’s team from tonight, who would you sign?”

Sir Alex replied: “That’s one of the most stupid questions I’ve ever heard in my life.” The conference room erupted with laughter, before Ferguson sarcastically answered: “Mascherano. You’re testing my patience.”

Messi’s former manager Pep Guardiola talked about him during his early days as Man City manager too, saying how much he respected him and Barcelona: “When I left Barcelona, and I went to Bayern Munich then Manchester City, I never asked Lionel Messi to come and join Bayern Munich or here when I was manager. I never went to both clubs and said ‘I want this player’. Never. It’s because I know how important this guy is to Barcelona.”

As an ex-Barcelona player and manager, it is understandable that Pep would distance himself from signing the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner.

Bryant said: “Ronaldinho, who was a good friend, I was talking with him and he told me, ‘Kobe, look I’m going to introduce you to the guy who is going to be the greatest player of all time.’ I said, ‘You what? You are the best.’

“But he said, ‘No, no. This kid right here is going to be the best.’ And that guy was Lionel Messi, who was only 17.”

Before Liverpool and Barcelona’s Champions League semi-final showdown in 2019, Jose Mourinho gave his predictions and thoughts on the tie on TV: “I would say Barca without Messi, I would say Liverpool are the favourite, I never say Messi is the special one in here, because everything he does, he does all the time.

“When Messi has the ball, one one one, you are dead.”

Finally, Zlatan Ibrahimovic gave the Argentinian the highest forms of praise in an interview: “I think Messi is one of a kind, what he is doing, I don’t know if we will see another player do the things that he does because he has his way of playing, the style, and to become that player, I don’t think it’s possible, that’s why I say it’s one of a kind.

“I had the luck to see him everyday, I saw what he was doing everyday, I’ve said it before it’s like playing PlayStation, you give the ball to the guy and he starts to go through every player, that’s who Messi is.”

These are just the tip of the iceberg, as several figures in sport have openly praised Lionel Messi and are often left in awe of what he can do on the pitch.

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