The Barcelona record-breaker left Rosario as a boy to move to the Blaugrana’s famed La Masia academy.
And after impressing with the Catalan youth teams, the Ballon d’Or winner has admitted that he was asked if he wanted to play for Spain.
“Of course I heard all of the comments - that I was not enthusiastic about playing for Argentina, that I did not sing the national anthem or that I was not committed to the shirt,” he says in a new book ‘Messi, The Patriot’.
“It was painful to come to my country and for lots of people to hit out at me unfairly.
“When I was a kid I expected to get a call from the AFA [Argentinian Football Association].
“I was asked informally if I wanted to play for Spain, but I always said that I wanted to play for my national team because I love Argentina and these are the only colours I want to wear.
“I was always an avid fan of the national team. I watched the games on television because I could never go to the grounds and watch them as a fan.
“The worst memory I have of a World Cup was in 2002, when we were knocked out of the tournament in South Korea and Japan. It was painful to watch it from a distance.”
Read the original article on Football Espana - The ultimate website for English-speaking fans of Spanish football
- Sports & Recreation