While he has gone on to sweep all team and individual honours at Barcelona, Lionel Messi admitted it was a difficult decision leaving his native Argentina for Camp Nou.
Messi and his family relocated to Barcelona at the age of 13, having spent his youth career with Newell’s Old Boys.
The rest is now history, with 28 trophies to Messi’s name, including eight La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns, not to mention the five Ballon d’Or awards.
But despite Barca’s global stature, the 28-year-old revealed it was not easy uprooting himself from South America to Catalonia.
“It was a complicated time,” Messi told Sports Illustrated, recalling a time when Barca had initially been reluctant to sign the teenager, whose family had grown impatient following a trial.
“On one hand it was nice, because to come and play in Barcelona was something spectacular.
“On the other hand it was difficult, because I left everything behind. I left my friends, part of my family, my childhood.
“Arriving in a country where I had nothing, starting practically from zero was very difficult.”
Messi, who will represent Argentina at next month’s Copa America Centenario in the United States, added: “One day I would like to go back to Argentina because I left my country at such a young age.
“I couldn’t enjoy Rosario, my city, my people that much.”