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Lionel Messi: the 14 best moments of my career

Lionel Messi
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Barcelona 3-3 Real Madrid

La Liga, March 10, 2007

It’s a beautiful feeling to get three goals against Real Madrid – it’s always a fixture everybody in the world watches, and this was the first time I’d achieved it. To score a hat-trick was incredible and it was even more special because it came in a Clasico.

Barcelona 5-2 Getafe

Copa del Rey, semi-final, April 18, 2007

When I walk out onto the pitch, I’m not really thinking about the consequences of the match or what might or might not happen – in football, everything should just happen naturally.

For this goal against Getafe, I picked the ball up near the halfway line and found a lot of space between the defenders. When I received possession, I didn’t think of scoring. I just wanted the open spaces to continue appearing as I moved towards the penalty area. I kept finding them as I kept advancing, and I didn’t start thinking I might score until I actually took the shot.

I’ve always measured my goals by the importance of them, not for the beauty. This was a very good goal but I have scored many others that have been more important to my teams. 

Argentina 6-0 Serbia & Montenegro

World Cup, group stage, June 16, 2006

Although this was my first appearance at a World Cup, I had played in many friendly games with the national team before – so in that sense there was no problem for me. I wasn’t nervous, I was excited to get out on the field and enjoy playing in the World Cup.  

It was a beautiful day due to the significance of the occasion – it was the World Cup and it was Argentina’s second match of the tournament. I was on the bench for the first game against Ivory Coast, but came on for the last 15 minutes against Serbia & Montenegro and scored our sixth goal of the game. Beautiful.

Juventus 1-3 Barcelona

Champions League, Final, June 6, 2015

Lifting up the Champions League trophy is an incredible feeling – becoming a champion is always a moment of happiness and joy. Yet in those moments, you don’t appreciate the magnitude of what you have just achieved. Even in Berlin, we didn’t realise the significance of what we’d done in winning the Treble.

It’s particularly special because it’s such a difficult task to win against the very best teams. It’s such a tough competition – you can be playing well, but then in one game you are suddenly out of the Champions League.

Real Madrid 2-6 Barcelona

La Liga, May 2, 2009

This was a particularly special night, given the way we won in the Bernabeu. I’d played in a new position – the ‘false nine’. It was a plan that Pep Guardiola had come up with especially for this match in order for us to be our most effective.

We’d spoken about it a lot before, so both of us were very satisfied with how it worked. Those big matches can go either way, and I’ve been in games where we’ve conceded four goals to Real and others where we have scored six. It was a fantastic performance from the whole team. I’m not sure whether it was the best, but it’s certainly a match that we will always remember and cherish.

Barcelona 2-0 Manchester United

Champions League, final, May 27, 2009

It was hard to imagine that I was going to score with my head with [Rio] Ferdinand standing near me, but I didn’t really have a marker – the ball came into the centre and I was there to meet it.

In the moments that the ball was in the air from Xavi’s cross, I pictured scoring this goal and I thank God it happened. It was such an important goal in every sense: for the team, for the way the final was turning in our favour and for me, too. It’s still one of my favourite goals.

After missing the 2006 final through injury, it was very special for me just to play in this game, let alone score in it. It completed a great season when we won everything.

Real Madrid 2-3 Barcelona

La Liga, April 23, 2017

It was a perfect night, one where everything went right, where I got everything that I wanted. I scored two great goals against Real Madrid inside the Bernabeu, with the second coming in the last minute to win us the game. And then you have the fact it was my 500th goal for Barcelona, too!

I couldn’t have asked for anything more. If I had not scored in that moment, we would have said goodbye to the league title there and then. It was a goal that gave us the drive to carry on fighting to try to win the league. We deserved to win this match and it was an emotional moment for all Barcelonistas.

When I saw Jordi Alba get the ball out wide, I knew where I needed to go as it was a movement that we practise. We know each other’s games so well and it wasn’t the first time we had done this. When Jordi gets in the final third of the field, I’ll always look to drop back near the edge of the penalty area, to collect the ball and finish – and that’s exactly what we did here.

Luis Enrique was really complimentary after the game, saying that I was ‘the best player in history’, but I should say it was his arrival that motivated us all to compete again. We were down as a group but when he arrived at the Camp Nou he immediately lifted us to train and play at our best – he gave us all the will to be a great team again.

Interview: Andy Mitten • Photograph: Shamil Tanna

This feature originally appeared in the July 2017 issue of FourFourTwo. Subscribe!

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