Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Xavi writes emotional open letter to ‘greatest ever’ Messi after fifth Ballon d’Or

Barcelona and Spain legend Xavi Hernandez has paid glowing tribute to reigning Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi, describing the Argentine genius as the greatest ever footballer.
Lionel Messi displays his Ballon d'or trophies. Image: French Football
Lionel Messi displays his Ballon d’or trophies. Image: French Football
Messi pipped Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and teammate Neymar to the prestigious award at a ceremony in Zurich on Monday, the fifth of his incredible career. And Xavi, who alongside Messi and Andres Iniesta, formed the ‘holy trinity’ at the camp Nou that dominated European football for much of the past decade, believes the Argentine is in a class by himself.
Masterminds Xavi and Messi at Barca. Image: Daily Star
Masterminds Xavi and Messi at Barca. Image: Daily Star
“You could tell he was different,” Xavi wrote in an editorial for Spanish daily El Pais.
“Leo, above all, had a talent that is the hardest to achieve: he understood the game. He could pass well and he could dribble around anyone you put in front of him: he used to leave the best defender we had on the ground.
“A while after he came to the first team we shared a trip and I discovered an educated boy, who was respectful, humble and not conceited at all.
“And that makes him exemplary, because being what he is now, being the best, he hasn’t lost those values, he hasn’t lost a bit of that humility and he respects his team-mates. I think Leo never wanted to be different from the others.”
Messi celebrates his fifth Ballon d'Or award on Monday. Image: IB Times
Messi celebrates his fifth Ballon d’Or award on Monday. Image: IB Times
The enormous potential in Messi nonetheless, Xavi never envisaged his development into the most dominant footballer of his generation.
“He was different, but he was only 16 years old, so I thought he’d be good, but I knew that football is very complicated, that a lot of things interfere, I never imagined he’d be the best player in history… He didn’t use to score so much and now he scores everything, he takes free kicks. And, like Pep [Guardiola] says, he dominates every aspect of the game.
“We’ll never see something similar. Not only because of what he can do, but because of the time that he’s been doing it for.
Meanwhile, Messi has picked up where he left off last year, with five goals in his two appearances for Barca this year.
Source: Goal.com