Jose Mourinho’s very first impression of a young Lionel Messi wasn’t quite what you’d expect…actually scratch that it was EXACTLY what you’d expect from Mourinho.
While most watched in awe at the precocious talents of the young star in the making the then Chelsea manager instead decided to accuse Messi of play-acting.
Messi introduced himself in person to the UK when his Barcelona side visited a patchy looking Stamford Bridge in the 2006 Champions League – and those that were already aware of the Argentinian teenager were excited about what they were in for.
Alongside Samuel Eto’o and Ronaldinho, Messi put forth a dazzling display, giving a glimpse of what his career was about to become.
Despite not getting on the scoresheet, Messi stunned the Blues, and helped his side to a 2-1 victory away from home.
Jose Mourinho, however, was not impressed with the soon-to-be five-time Ballon d’Or winner. Instead of praising his performance, the Chelsea boss focused on his supposed ‘play-acting’ after being fouled by Asier del Horno – who was then sent off.
“How do you say cheating in Catalan?” Mourinho told BBC Sport.
“Can Messi be suspended for acting? Barcelona is a cultural city with many great theatres and this boy has learned very well. He’s learned play-acting.”
Even at his young age, Messi showed a mature reaction to Mourinho, who was known for trying to get under the skin of his opponents.
“I don’t do theatre,” the young Messi responded. “I don’t attach any importance to that because we know what he’s like, that he likes talking, he likes to say things and heat up the atmosphere.”
“I got past Arjen Robben and Del Horno charged at me with bad intent. Luckily I see him coming and I jump because if not he would have hurt me much more.”
Messi went on to win his first of four Champions League trophies that season, the start of a beautiful career.