Lionel Messi: I’m not the sort of guy who shouts and screams before a match
Birth of Thiago
My life has changed massively since Thiago’s birth, of course it has. He’s now the most important thing in my life. It’s been a challenge like any other. Your first thought must always be for your son. It’s been a fantastic experience, though.
He’s the best present anyone could wish for in their life, without a shadow of doubt. Is he conscious of who his dad is and what he does? No, not really. He’s not really aware of anything, he’s only two years old!
In the last couple of months he’s started learning how to talk and communicate with us better – he understands when we talk to him – which is fantastic. But in terms of what I do, and I suppose who I am, no, he doesn’t understand that.
As I say, he’s two, so he doesn’t think in that way. [My partner] Antonella has told me that he recognises me when I’m on the TV, though, which is nice.
On the way to training
When I’m in the car on the way to training, I always drive as calmly as possible. I enjoy the drive, actually. It’s nice to have that bit of time before training to relax, alone with my thoughts. It’s the same before a game. I always go the same route, too, because it helps me concentrate.
People even recognise me when I’m en route. Most of the time I think they recognise the car, but there have been a couple of times when someone’s crossing the street, or waiting at a red light next to me, and they glance over and look really surprised, like, “oh, it’s you!” It’s quite funny.
We all arrive an hour before training starts. We all have breakfast together when we arrive, then everyone goes about their own business before the football starts. Some will go into the gym for half an hour to prepare themselves, others will see the physio for a stretch, especially if they have a small injury complaint.
There’s a group of us who have mate together [a traditional South American tea, high in caffeine] before training starts. Sometimes I’ll go for a wander around the training ground or sit in the dressing room.
It all depends on each day, really, but the mate and having a chat with my team-mates I’ll do every day. It’s not necessarily about wanting a routine, it’s just what we do. We arrive, have a drink and a chat. There isn’t a reason why, it’s just what we’ve always done.
Everyone’s got their own style. Everybody’s different. I think I’m just normal, jeans and T-shirt. We all get on very well in the dressing room. I’ve always been close with Dani Alves, since we shared the right wing together when I first broke into the Barcelona first-team.
We’ve spent many years together, both on and off the field. Day-to-day, we’ve got a very strong relationship, which is also of a great help on the field; it means we understand each other’s games very well.
As a squad we try to do things socially. It varies, because everybody has their own time away from the pitch to spend with their family. We all have different obligations, many of us have children who we pick up from school or go to bed early – anything to do with your children always takes time. When we can, we get together, but everyone has their own life.