Playing for Spain was never something I considered, says Messi

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Buenos Aires, May 29 (IANS) Argentina skipper Lionel Messi said not for a minute did he ever think of playing for the Spanish national football team, despite having been tempted at times, and added that to be champion of the 2018 Russia World Cup playing for his native country would be a unique experience.

“The other day I was talking to a friend and he told me, ‘Look, if you had stayed with Spain, you’d already be world champ,'” Messi, who has had Spanish nationality since 2005, said with a laugh during an interview on Argentina’s Channel 13, reported Efe.

As he told it, when he was “15 or 16 years old,” the coach of the Spanish national under-17 football squad, “half joking, half seriously,” offered him a place on the team.

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“But not for a minute did I have any doubts,” Messi said, convinced that, if he had played with Spain in 2010 and won the South Africa World Cup with that team, “it wouldn’t have been the same” as winning it with the team from the land of his birth.

While a teenager, Messi left his native Rosario to begin in the lower ranks of FC Barcelona, where he was provided with hormonal growth treatment and where he has had innumerable triumphs.

For that reason he said he was sure that, if he continues playing in Europe in the future, it will not be with any other team but the one where he has spent his entire career.

“I’m more certain every day that Europe will be my only place. But I’ve always said I hoped to play football in Argentina some day, though I don’t know if that will happen…but I keep it in mind,” he said.

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Before settling in Spain, Messi trained with Newell’s Old Boys in Rosario, the team with which he would like to play if he ever goes back to live in Argentina.

“Being champion with Argentina would be something unique,” Messi said.

–IANS

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