Ronaldinho played a vital role in helping Lionel Messi feel at ease when he broke through to the Barcelona first team as a timid teenager during the 2004-05 campaign.
The charismatic Brazilian, one of the most naturally gifted footballers of all time, took the Argentine under his wing and looked after him both on and off the pitch.
To this day, Messi remains immensely grateful to Ronaldinho - and this week the four-time Ballon d’Or winner sent a signed shirt to his former Barça teammate.
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Messi, according to UEFA, wrote the following message for Ronaldinho on the shirt: "To my friend Roni. With all my heart, one big hug!"
Ronaldinho posted a photo of the shirt on Instagram, alongside the caption: “Look what my partner @leomessi wrote in shirt handed me !! On my Facebook has his picture when he was signing !! Cool!!.”
“Big hug, brother!!” Ronaldinho posted, alongside the photo of Messi signing the shirt, on his official Facebook page.
Ronaldinho always knew Messi was world class
Ronaldinho was in no doubt from early on that Messi possessed world-class talent.
Back in January 2006, the South American wizard told FourFourTwo magazine, while introducing Messi: “Best in the world? I’m not even the best at Barça…”
Considering Ronaldinho was at the peak of his powers when he made that comment, it shows how big an impact Messi made amongst the senior players at the Camp Nou when he broke into the first team.
Of course, Ronaldinho was proved right. Almost ten years later and Messi is regarded by many not only as the best footballer of his generation, but the greatest player of all time.
Who was the more naturally gifted footballer? Lionel Messi or Ronaldinho? Have your say by leaving a comment below!
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