Espanyol defender David Garcia, who was the first to mark Messi in a competitive fixture, dosen’t think he was anything special when he first faced him.
Lionel Messi made his first team debut for FC Barcelona away to Espanyol in La Liga on October 16, 2004. Not many would have predicted that the 17 year old who came on as a substitute for Deco that night would go on to become one of the greats of Barcelona and go on to be regarded as one of the greatests to ever grace the football field.
Garcia has spent 12 years at Espanyol and came up against Messi in a number of Catalan derbies. The 38 year old however claims that he didn’t think he was up against too much when he faced the Argentine for the first time during his short-period appearance which lasted only for about eight minutes.
“It was normal [marking Messi that day], he was not what he is now, despite his innate talent,” Garcia told Goal. “Today he is confident and has grown a lot – nothing like what he was in that game. I don’t remember anything special about marking him, it was like defending against any other player,” Garcia added.
15 years down the line, Messi has gone on to score a staggering 604 goals in 692 appearances for the club to go with his 233 assists. Having won the La Liga 10 times, 6 Copa del Reys, 4 Champions League and 3 Club World Cups, the 32 year old has cemented his place as Barcelona’s greatest player and arguably the best player ever to kick a football.
The Espanyol stalwart even went on to add that he is quite surprised by what the Argentine has gone on to achieve on the football field today.
“I sensed that he would be a very good player but not what he has become,” Garcia said. “The truth is that at that time I did not think about what he was going to be. I thought that, like many boys from Espanyol or Barcelona, he was fulfilling the dream of debuting with his team being so young but on the pitch, you don’t think about that,” the 38-year old explained.