As Juventus prepare to face FC Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League Final, their former manager Fabio Capello has revealed that he attempted to sign Lionel Messi during his time at the Old Lady.
Lionel Messi played in the pre-season tournament Joan Gamper trophy final against Juventus back in 2005 as a 16 year old and turned in a performance of the highest quality that had the then Serie A champions manager Fabio Capello in awe.
“I have never seen a player of such quality,” said Capello. “At the end of the match I went to [Frank] Rijkaard (the then FC Barcelona manager) to say they already had three foreigners in the squad, they should release one!”
“I wanted to sign Messi. I tried to buy him, but Barca wouldn’t sell.”
“I knew the value of my full-backs and when I saw Messi play I knew he was special. I could see that he could do things that didn’t occur to other players.”
Lionel Messi was yet to make his debut for FC Barcelona that season but went onto play 25 times under Rijkaard and score 8 goals as FC Barcelona won the La Liga and UEFA Champions League.
The Gamper match ended 2-2, with Juve winning 4-2 on penalties, but it was not the result that mattered that night. It was the discovery of a player that would go on to win a record four Ballon da Or trophies and enthrall the audiences world over.