Lee (stickmarionette) wrote in _fcbarcelona_,

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injury should be a swear word

Something to distract everybody from moping around after El Clasico: recently, one of the Catalan dailies interviewed Deco and Sylvinho, two of Leo Messi's closest pals on the occasion of him placing in the top three in the voting for FIFA's World Player of the Year and invited them to talk about the Leo they knew.

(Since I don't speak Spanish, this is a translation of a Chinese translation. Apologies in advance for any inaccuracies.)

Messi in the eyes of Deco

When I first saw Messi train, I thought, 'how can this kid be so good, so far above his age?' and with the passing of time, my thoughts have been increasingly verified. He really amazed me. But now I'm no longer surprised [at his development], because he's an extraordinary player, and I've watched his growth everyday in training and in matches.

I believe that the Messi everybody sees today still isn't the best Messi. Because he's still so young, yes, but that's only a secondary reason, the more important reason is that he is still capable of more. When he matures in every aspect of his game he will be able to do things we can't even imagine. He still needs more games, more experience, but I still remember the first time I ever saw him - I already knew then he was extraordinary, at least to me.

I like him a lot. Recently I haven't seen a better player. Maybe Ronaldinho and Cristiano Ronaldo are comparable, but as I've said many times about Cristiano Ronaldo, he relies more on power, the power in his legs. Messi, though, is an absolute genius. I'm most moved by the [ball] skills of him and Ronaldinho, they're both extraordinary players. As long as Messi is on the field, he will produce something to break down [the opposition]. The thing I most admire about him is his bravery in front of goal. It doesn't matter how far he is from the goalkeeper, he will always go forward [towards goal].

It's not only his skills that attract me. In ordinary life, he's also an adorable* kid. He's very lucky - the environment in which he's growing up has always been very good. He's humble, shy, uncomplicated**, won't ever hide anything. When he first got into the first team, he was very shy. Ronnie and I both actively tried to approach him because we thought he seemed afraid of speaking to us. Even now he's still very shy, but he'd tell the two of us anything. We told him at the beginning that we didn't want him to feel uncomfortable in the team, that he wasn't alone, and we were all with him.

Today, he's already among the ranks of one of the world's best players. I'm very moved, very happy. Earlier on, when it was the Golden Ball, I already said to him 'don't worry, even if you don't get it this year, you will next year.' Because this world isn't short of new stars, but most of them will turn out to be mere shooting stars. Messi is different, he will dominate football for many years. I definitely believe that he will be World Player of the Year many times.

Messi in the eyes of Sylvinho

I first got to know Leo in the 2004 trip to Asia. I'd only just joined from Celta, and Messi had just risen into the first team. He spoke very little. I approached him because I've had great relations with all the Argentinian players I've come into contact with, and I have a great time with my Argentinian friends. Messi was very timid, very shy. When we were in China he always asked me to go places with him, otherwise he would be too embarrassed [to go anywhere]. When I said to him that he didn't need my company, he begged me very quietly to come with him, and I had to agree in the end.

Mess is very shy, but that doesn't mean he has a weak personality. On the contrary, he has a very strong personality, which exceeds his age. This amazes me - he already knew his own goals and exactly what he wanted when he was just 17. You would treat him like a kid, try to give him explanations and advice when something happens, but you'd find that he already understood. Even when he was very young, he knew exactly what Barca meant, what football is, and what the media is like. When he's really angry he won't hide it either.

I remember in Paris [at the Champions League final], when he wasn't in the squad list for the game, I could tell he was very hurt [by the decision]. I knew he had worked really hard in training in order to be fit in time for the final. When we won, he joined in the celebrations after a little whole, like everybody else, but it was obvious that he wasn't as happy as when he won his first La Liga title. The Messi on the pitch at Levante was the happiest Messi.

Still, it's unusual for Messi to be unhappy. He can now face injury with calm and composure. He's changed a lot in the last three years. Now he's a star worldwide, but in the changing room he's still the same kid. His family's support is the most important thing for him. Whenever he has the chance to see his family, he'd spend lots of time with his brother and his nephew. His family are like him - they're not people who would become arrogant or conceited. They're as humble as Messi himself. I know that no matter what Messi achieves in the future, he'll never lose himself. He'll never change as a person.

Messi is still growing. Right now he's often the player who decides a game, but once we get back to the changing rooms you won't find any sign of that. He'll act as if nothing had happened. He'll never gloat, or make people think he's better than they are. Even though he's always the protagonist in the newspapers, he's not in the changing rooms. He's always that humble, no matter if it's after completing a hat-trick against Real Madrid, or after going past five players [that goal, you know the one] against Getafe; he'll celebrate on the pitch, but once he's back in the changing rooms it's like those things never happened. Because he knows, he can still do more - those great moments will come again, because he's only 20.

*word can also be translated as cute or lovable or lovely
**can also be translated as 'innocent'

It's interesting to note just how much of a fanboy Deco is of Leo as a player, and how Sylvinho's account is a bit more personal.
Tags: article, deco, lionel messi, sylvinho

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