Cesc Fabregas, the Monaco midfielder, has shared a touching story of his first encounter with Lionel Messi, as he paid tribute to the departing Barcelona captain.
It will be recalled that Barcelona confirmed on Thursday that Messi would leave Camp Nou as a free agent.
Barcelona said Messi would not be continuing at the club due to LaLiga salary restrictions which made renewing his contract impossible.
Reacting, Fabregas, who came up with Messi at La Masia [Barcelona academy], took the opportunity to say farewell to his former teammate.
“I’ll always remember the day you came to the dressing room at 13 years old and we were told an Argentine kid had come to try out,” Cesc wrote in a series of messages on his Twitter page on Saturday.
“You sat down and never said a word. The coach told me to go in strong in a one-on-one exercise against you, you looked so small that I thought I would take the ball off you in a second.”
“Silly me, you left me on the floor and from there I knew you were something special.”
“My dream had always been to play in the Barca first team, but to do that with you and with Geri [Gerard Pique], that always made that dream a lot more special.
“In the end it came true and just for the fact that I felt like I did playing at false 9 alongside you and seeing the connection we had, that made it all worth it. You leave as the best player of all time. Barca will never be the same without you,” he said.
“Thank you for everything you have given and everything that you are, because behind that competitive animal there is a spectacular, humble, kind and generous person.
“I wish you, Anto, Thiagui, Matu and Ciro all the best. I am sure you will be happy wherever you go. I love you.”
Meanwhile, Messi, who will hold a press conference on Sunday, is close to joining Paris Saint-Germain.