Zinedine Zidane’s Unforgettable First Encounter with Lionel Messi in 2005

Zinedine Zidane's Unforgettable First Encounter with Lionel Messi

Zinedine Zidane’s Unforgettable First Encounter with Lionel Messi in 2005

In a remarkable revelation, former Real Madrid player and manager, Zinedine Zidane, has shared the story of his first encounter with Lionel Messi, and it’s a tale that still feels surreal.

Zidane crossed paths with Messi both as a player for Real Madrid and later as the coach of the team. Their first meeting took place on November 23, 2005, during a UEFA Champions League group stage match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at the iconic Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona.

At the time, Messi was a mere 18-year-old, gradually making his mark as a pivotal player in Barcelona’s squad. Zidane, on the other hand, was in the twilight of his career at the age of 33, donning the Real Madrid jersey.

Reflecting on that encounter, Zidane recollected, “In the years 2004-2005, when we were preparing to face Barcelona in El Clásico, our focus was on players like Ronaldinho, Deco, Xavi, and Eto’o. However, Ronaldo [Nazário] mentioned his concern about a 16-year-old kid named Messi. We thought Ronaldo was praising him just because they were both Latinos.”

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As the match unfolded, Real Madrid seemed to dominate Barcelona entirely. But then, manager Frank Rijkaard introduced Messi onto the field, and everything changed. Zidane vividly remembered how the young Argentine played with astonishing precision, as if programmed like a robot. Messi relentlessly won every duel, eventually earning a penalty for Ronaldinho, resulting in an equalizer.

On the journey back to the team bus, it wasn’t just Ronaldo who couldn’t stop talking about the performance of this 16-year-old prodigy. Every player was in awe of Messi’s abilities and how he nearly dismantled them on the pitch. Zidane admitted, “It was from that day onward that I knew Messi would become a soccer legend of tremendous magnitude.”

The meeting between Zidane and Messi in 2005 was the start of a captivating rivalry that would unfold over the years. It was a moment when Zidane realized the extraordinary potential and talent possessed by the young Argentine, who would go on to achieve greatness and etch his name in football history.

The encounter between these two footballing legends serves as a reminder of the impact Messi has had on the sport and how he has continually mesmerized fans and opponents alike with his unrivaled skills and unwavering determination.