Messi: The header to beat Manchester United in 2009 is still one of my favourite goals

Lionel Messi has told FourFourTwo that, of the 507 goals that he has scored for Barcelona, his header in the 2009 Champions League Final remains one of his favourites.

The Argentine added to Samuel Eto’o's strike against Manchester United at the Stadio Olimpico, clinching a third Champions League crown for the Blaugrana.

And it was deja vu a couple of years later, with Alex Ferguson's men falling to Messi & Co. again – this time at Wembley – as Barça bagged another European title.

It was hard to imagine that I was going to score with my head with Ferdinand standing near me, but I didn’t really have a marker

Just 21 of the forward’s 507 club goals have been scored using his head – compared to more than 400 with his wand-like left foot – which perhaps explains why the nodded effort against United, on one of football's biggest stages, is of particular importance to him.

Messi – the guest editor of the July 2017 issue of FourFourTwo magazine – also reveals he couldn’t believe how much space he’d been afforded by a formidable defensive line that featured Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra.

Portraits: Shamil Tanna

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

“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,” he says.

“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.”

Read the full interview with Lionel Messi in July 2017 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, as the new boss discusses a selection of his career highlights. Also this month, we look back at the La Masia academy team that he played in – featuring Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique – that blew all of their rivals away, and profile the other members of the 500-goal club, which Leo joined during the week he edited the magazine. Plus, we talk Liverpool, La Decima and motorbikes with the recently-retired Xabi Alonso, visit Argentina on the Primera Division’s weekend of derbies, go One-on-One with Javier Zanetti, hear how Ralf Rangnick led RB Leipzig to the top of the Bundesliga, and learn what Brexit will mean for football. Order it now, and then subscribe!