Lionel Messi: I owe so much to Ronaldinho | inside World Soccer

Lionel Messi has admitted that he owes a debt of gratitude to Ronaldinho for mentoring him when he first broke into the Barcelona team.

Ronaldinho was a key figure in helping Lionel Messi settle into the Barcelona team
Ronaldinho was a key figure in helping Lionel Messi settle into the Barcelona team

Photo: Getty Images

The Brazilian had been at the peak of his powers when Messi made his Blaugrana debut back in 2004.

It is a time the four-time Ballon d'Or winner has never forgotten and he is grateful for Ronaldinho's help in those early years.

Messi told Barça TV: "I've always said, since the first moment I walked in the locker room, Ronaldinho and other Brazilians, Deco, Sylvinho and (Thiago) Motta welcomed me and provided me things, but mostly he (Ronaldinho), and I learned a lot at his side.

"It was a big help. It's never easy to go into a dressing room when you're aged just 16 and Ronaldinho made everything easier.

"I was fortunate to live near him and share many things with him. I can say that he is a great person and that's the most important thing."

Ronaldinho lifted two La Liga titles and the Champions League during a five-year spell at the Camp Nou.

He eventually left the Catalan giants for AC Milan in 2008, before joining Flamengo and then Atlético Mineiro in 2012.

Messi added: "Ronaldinho was responsible for changing the club. The club was going through a bad spell but it changed with his arrival.

"During the first year we did not win anything but people loved him. Later came the titles and he made all those people happy. I believe that Barça should be forever grateful for everything he did."

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