Lionel Messi has hailed Frank Rijkaard as the most important coach of his career after he helped him break into the Barcelona first-team.
The Argentina international made his senior debut for the Camp Nou outfit as a 16-year-old under Rijkaard in 2004 before going onto become one of the world’s greatest ever players over the next decade.
And though he thrived under both Pep Guardiola and current manager Luis Enrique, Messi still cites the Dutchman as the man who gave him the opportunity to reach his potential.
“The truth is that all the coaches I had since I arrived in the Primera Division taught me something,” he told MBC. “But I think the most important in my career was Rikjaard.
“If he hadn’t trusted in me and not decided to put me in the first team first to train and then play my first match, maybe I wouldn’t have made it to the first team.
“I always said that he was for me a very important person, because he trusted in me, put me in at the right time, picked me to play for the first team and that was very important for me.”
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