It was on 24 July, 2008, that Lionel Messi first wore the number 10 shirt for Barcelona in a match, friendly or competitive. A pre-season friendly against Hibernian saw the diminutive Argentine inherit the fabled shirt from Ronaldinho.


The genius of Messi was discovered almost four years prior to that, when the man from Rosario played for five different Barcelona teams in the same season, culminating in his debut for the senior team at the age of 17.

Ludovic Guily would later describe what a phenomenal talent Messi was in training at 16, scoring a goal, dribbling past four players and “destroying us all”. After that training session, Messi’s first with the senior team, the owner of the number 10 shirt at the time, Ronaldinho would predict that the Argentine would go on to become a greater player than the Brazilian himself.

Messi had enjoyed two prolific seasons between the summers of 2006 and 2008 but Barcelona were in decline after winning the Champions League in 2006. Messi missed that match through injury and he would miss a total of eight months in the succeeding two years.

The summer of 2008 would prove fruitful, though, as the former Newell’s Old Boys man would win the Olympic gold medal with Argentina. Barcelona would move on from Frank Rijkaard and Ronaldinho too, making Messi the undoubted star of the team, at which point he would also inherit the number 10 shirt from the Brazilian.

The rest, as they say in Spain, is historia.