The legend of Lionel Messi became known to the world outside of Rosario and Barcelona 15 years ago today.
In a friendly match on November 16, 2003 inaugurating Porto’s Estadio do Dragao – built for the upcoming Euro 2004 tournament – Frank Rijkaard and Barcelona traveled west with many reserve and youth players, as most of the first team stars were away on international duty.
Messi, who was just 16-years old at the time and began the season five levels below the first team in Juveniles B, had impressed in a rare chance to play against the first team players and was brought along in the traveling squad. In the 75th minute, Rijkaard brought on Messi to play as a forward, and he created a pair of chances, nearly scoring on a sloppy pitch.
Though it was 11 months before he made his La Liga debut and another year before he became a first team mainstay, the legend of Messi was born in Portugal as the young Argentine finally took the field. Fun fact: Porto’s coach on that day? The one and only Jose Mourinho.
Barcelona released a documentary on Messi’s Barcelona debut, with Messi re-watching his performance and providing his comments and memories. Watch it below: