Lionel Messi and Zinedine Zidane, two footballers from different generations, highlighted what their careers were like over the years and compared themselves with different sports leaders such as Diego Maradona, Enzo Francescoli and Pablo Aimar.
“For Argentines, 10 is a very special number, Maradona automatically comes to mind. Those of us who grew up with football wanted to be like him, although later no one became like him, that was the desire and hope,” Messi said about Diego. And he added: “Copy what Maradona did, the player we admired. I saw little of Diego, when he went to Newell’s in the final stage he was 6, 7 years old. I don’t remember much, then I obviously saw videos, but even though I haven’t seen him, he was the reference and our idol.”
Both footballers shared very little time on the pitch, when Messi was starting out at Barcelona and Zidane was already in the twilight of his career at Real Madrid. However, the two saw each other a lot more when the Frenchman began his career as a coach while the Argentine was an idol of the Catalan club.
“My reference was Enzo Francescoli, who played for Marseille, one of my sons is named after Enzo. When I saw him I said ‘I want to be like him’. He was very elegant how he handled the ball, you didn’t see that much. When Enzo came we saw that he was a different footballer, there were not many foreigners, he was a magician with the ball.
I wanted to do the same…”, expressed Zidane, in line with what Leo commented about Maradona.
Messi responded that when he was little he saw him play: “I was a boy, but I saw River’s time when they won everything, they had a great team. Today he continues to work at the club. I was lucky to meet him and he is a great person. I remember that River was crazy, it was his last stage in River.”
“I really liked Aimar. A player whose way of playing I loved, in River he also had a great team. Aside from Diego, who was a separate case, Pablo was a person that he greatly admired as a player. As a kid I didn’t follow European football that much,” Messi revealed.
They also talked about the changes in football. “Football changed a lot, the way of playing, the systems. When they were little they started playing 4-3-3 and that’s why the number 10 doesn’t fit into that system. In this way, the training of those players was also lost. Before, a lot of the game was played by the 10… I don’t know if the number is as important as it was in another era, but it is still a special shirt,” both agreed on the matter.
The two also praised each other. “What is Messi for Zidane? Magic. To all the people who like football, these players are different. There are, but they are few, like him. Leo is an example for everyone, his life is family and football. Thinking that he can do what he does on the court makes people dream. When he is on the field the others have confidence. Before receiving the ball he already knows what he is going to do,” said the Frenchman. And what Messi said about Zidane: “For me he is one of the greatest in history, I suffered a lot in Madrid because I was from Barcelona, the time of the Galacticos. He was always a different, elegant player, he had everything. I remember the goal against Leverkusen in the Champions League and the World Cup in France. The great players transfer to the shirt and the country. “He was the different one.”
Messi closed the interview with something he regrets: “If I had to repeat a match, the thorn of the 2014 World Cup final. Things happen because they have to happen, I don’t regret all the path I took. I was lucky to have many joys, also sadness, and I was able to draw that a little with this World Cup.”
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