Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has recently written a wide ranging article about his career, in which he credits his former manager at Manchester United Sir Alex Ferguson as being a major influence on his career.
“People often ask me what it has been like playing with Messi for so many years,”
“If I had to explain it in one sentence: He is an alien.
“He is not from this planet.
“He’s the only player that I can recall seeing play for the first time, way back when we were 13 years old, and saying to myself, “Oh, this kid comes from somewhere else. This is not human.”
“He is an assassin. He’s the greatest I’ve ever seen. But, you see, it’s not about the way he attacks.
“People ask me, “What’s the most incredible thing I’ve seen Leo do on the pitch?” And they expect me to tell them about him dribbling three defenders. And trust me, I have plenty of those stories.
“But for me, the reason that I know he’s from another planet is because of what happens when he doesn’t have the ball.
“Perhaps you can’t see it on TV, but I can see it on the pitch. You have to see his face when he’s sprinting to win the ball back from a defender.
“He has a look in his eyes that I haven’t ever seen in another footballer. It is what makes him so great. He is not interested in the spectacle.
“He rarely even does stepovers. He’s cut from a different cloth. His greatness is in his obsession with winning the ball.
“Maybe that doesn’t make for a great headline. But when I think about Messi’s true magic, it’s not in something you can find on YouTube.
“It’s about a subtle expression in his eyes. His greatness would take me another 5,000 words to explain.”