Lionel Messi seems to be sure to go down in historical past as the best one-club man in historical past (sorry, Jamie Carragher).
However his unbelievable Barcelona profession was very practically scuppered by one one of the vital audacious mortgage bids ever, because of the Soccer Supervisor obsessive son of Alex McLeish.
Then at Rangers, McLeish had been using excessive, profitable a treble in his first season nevertheless it was all set to alter with quite a few stars leaving the membership.
Barry Ferguson was the large loss in 2003 – heading to Blackburn Rovers for £7.5million – because the Scottish giants regularly set about making an attempt to steadiness the books, which weren’t wanting too wholesome.
With Ferguson gone, Rangers wanted a participant, somebody with some talent within the ultimate third, a ball-player, and his son Jon – who would later turn out to be a scout and agent – had a suggestion.
All ears as he appeared to unravel his Ibrox points, McLeish took notes and set to work thank to his effectively linked assistant Jan Wouters.
We’ve all been there on Soccer Supervisor, haven’t we? We’ve landed ourselves a celebrity, informed our mates about them, and pushed them as a participant our membership ought to check in actual life.
McLeish’s youngster provided up a reputation. Lionel Messi.
“My son Jon was into Championship Supervisor,” he defined to The Large Interview.
“He was continually giving me names in South America. They arrive out the sky and say ‘Lionel Messi goes to be the most effective participant on the planet’.
“You dismiss it however Rangers had been downsizing and we had been searching for some high quality in midfield.
“Barry Ferguson had gone all the way down to Blackburn so we misplaced a man who would have taken the ball in any stadium anyplace on the planet. We wanted gamers of that ilk once more.
“Jan Wouters phoned Henk ten Cate, who was the assistant of Frank Rijkaard, the ex-Dutch worldwide.
“Jan phoned him and mentioned: ‘Messi?’ We had been informed no probability.”
It was value a go proper?
And like legendary Manchester United supervisor, Sir Alex Ferguson, who coached McLeish at Aberdeen, it’s at all times value inquiring additional and discovering out what else you would possibly get.
Fergie landed Eric Cantona when he dared ask Leeds about his availability throughout a dialog about Denis Irwin.
McLeish and Wouters nearly acquired a good greater prize – Andres Iniesta, a gifted midfielder who was on the first-team fringes.
“[Ten Cate] mentioned ‘we’ve acquired a younger child, Iniesta, he’s an outstanding participant’, solely 18 or 19,” McLeish continued.
“We mentioned ‘can he come to Scotland?’
“They mentioned ‘yep I’ll try to make hay at Barcelona and get him over to you. He must get some motion’.
“By the Monday, Iniesta was referred to as into the crew and he performed a stormer.
“Ten Cate got here again and Jan requested him ‘what concerning the wee man? Are we getting him?’”
“Ten Cate sighed and mentioned we had no probability.”
Having taken a younger Mikel Arteta from Barcelona in 2002, it hadn’t been the wildest lengthy shot both. The Spaniard was growing properly earlier than his eventual transfer Everton the place he turned a family title and in the end joined Arsenal.
Whereas in 2000, the Scottish aspect snapped up Dutch worldwide Ronald de Boer from the Catalan giants.
Messi’s story with Rangers – and Scottish soccer – doesn’t finish there although.
Simply three years later, the Argentine sensation would face the Gers within the Champions League – and he HATED each minute.
On October 23, 2007, a Barcelona aspect, which in addition to Messi, included Ronaldinho, Thierry Henry, Xavi, and Iniesta, travelled to Ibrox within the Champions League.
An outstanding defensive show noticed Rangers declare a 0-Zero draw with Sasa Papac doing his finest to nullify Messi.
“It’s unbelievable. Rangers didn’t need to play soccer. Proper from the beginning they went for anti-football and I’m left with a bitter style within the mouth at not having been in a position to win the match as a result of we had an honest variety of possibilities. All we lacked was the end.
“It’s an actual ache taking part in towards groups like that and it’s very arduous too. It’ll be totally different on the Camp Nou.”
He was proper. It was. A 2-Zero win for Barcelona and Messi grabbed a purpose and an help – by no means make him offended.