Football

Thierry Henry knew Lionel Messi was special after Chelsea v Barcelona in 2006.

Thierry Henry knew Lionel Messi was special after Chelsea v Barcelona in 2006

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When did it first dawn on you that Lionel Messi was going to become one of the game’s true greats?

The Argentine’s remarkable talent and potential was obvious from very early on - at the Camp Nou they were acutely aware of his extraordinary ability long before he made his professional debut for Barcelona in 2004 - but Thierry Henry admits he realised Messi was even more special than he’d first thought after watching him in action against Chelsea in February 2006.

Messi, who was just 18 at the time, didn’t score in the Champions League fixture at Stamford Bridge but still caught the eye with his technique and fearless attitude.

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Speaking about his former teammate Messi, who plays against Arsenal this week, Gunners’ legend Henry told Marca: ”It was ten years ago this week that I first realised just how special he was, when Chelsea kicked him all over the place in a Champions League game at Stamford Bridge.

“But Leo just kept picking himself up and running at them again and again."

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Mourinho accused Messi of overreacting after that match

Messi was caught up in a controversial moment in that match against Chelsea a decade ago.

After brilliantly winning the ball off Arjen Robben near the corner flag, the Barcelona star jumped to avoid a potentially dangerous challenge from Asier del Horno but was still clattered by the Spanish defender. He then rolled around a few times, much to the annoyance of the Blues’ faithful, before Del Horno was shown a straight red card.

This incensed Jose Mourinho, Chelsea’s manager at the time, who accused the teenage Messi of overreacting.

"How do you say cheating in Catalan?" Mourinho was quoted as saying by BBC Sport at the time. "Can Messi be suspended for acting? Barcelona is a cultural city with many great theatres and this boy has learned very well. He's learned play-acting."

Messi hit back at Mourinho

But Messi was not impressed with Mourinho’s comments and hit back by saying: "I don't do theatre.

"I don't attach any importance to that because we know what he's like, that he likes talking, he likes to say things and heat up the atmosphere."

UEFA Champions League: Chelsea v Barcelona

Of the incident, Messi added: "I got past Arjen Robben and Del Horno charged at me with bad intent. Luckily I see him coming and I jump because if not he would have hurt me much more.”

Messi has never scored against Petr Cech

Messi boasts an impressive goalscoring record against Arsenal - six goals in four matches - but has never managed to score past Petr Cech.

In six appearances against the former Chelsea star, Messi has drawn a blank on each occasion. He even had a chance to beat him from the penalty spot in 2012 but slammed the ball against the crossbar.

Will Lionel Messi score against Arsenal on Tuesday night? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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Topics:
UEFA Champions League
Barcelona
Premier League
Thierry Henry
Petr Cech
Lionel Messi
Football
Arsenal

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