Lionel Messi has hailed Frank Rijkaard as the most important coach he has worked with in his career.
The Barcelona forward named Rijkaard above the likes of Pep Guardiola, Diego Maradona and Gerardo Martino as the Dutchman was the Barcelona coach who gave him his debut.
“All the coaches I had at first left me things, but I think the most important thing in my career was Rijkaard,” the Argentina international told Egyptian television channel MBC.
“If he had not decided to get me in the first team to train and play perhaps had never reached the first team.”
Messi was handed his Barca bow at the age of 17, becoming the third youngest player in the club’s history.
“I always said [Riikaard] was, for me, a very important person because he trusted me,” Messi added.
“He made me play in the first team.”