The story began a September 17, 2000. Accompanied by his dad Jorge, Lionel Messi got off a plane in Catalonia with the desire to prove himself and succeed in the Barcelona. 20 years later, that Flea is the top scorer in the club’s history, with which he won 34 titles, including four Champions League. In addition, he became one of the best footballers to ever step on a playing field, obtaining six Golden Balls. Not even the last conflict of the “burofax” affair, through which the 33-year-old forward was about to leave the cast cule, can erase so much glory.
Carles rexach, 72, continues to work at Barcelona, as when it took just a few seconds to see an adolescent Messi in action to, in his role as technical secretary, decide his signing, an unrivaled milestone in the institution’s career.
“Now it is easy because its superiority is too evident, but When I saw him I said to myself: ‘This guy is a phenomenon’, and the first thing I thought is that if nothing strange happened to him, that he should not go crazy, that he did not have an accident, that he grew in height, he had to go very far. Even once we signed him, we cheated on him, he revealed. What did they consist of? “We made him play against teams made up of much older people, but he always had the ball, and that shyness that he had outside the playing fields would go away once it began to be played and it was another person,” he said in dialogue with Infobae, in December 2019.
Despite the magic that his booties exuded, his signing was not immediate or easy. “There were many obstacles that some leaders manifested, because they said that I was very small, foreign (and therefore, I could not play the local leagues), but I trusted what my contact in Argentina and the agent Josep María Minguella had told me, that although he was 12 years old ‘you have to see it’. But at that age and coming from so far away, I couldn’t go there to see him. I told them ‘let’s do something, let him come to Barcelona for a week with his family and we’ll see him in Barcelona’, but there was an unexpected problem, that I had to go on a trip right at that moment, “Rexach described the first obstacle.
“I went as a player scout for Barcelona to the Sydney Olympic Games, and when I returned, they told me that the family could no longer wait any longer, and they even told me: ‘He’s a foosball player’, then, upon arrival , I said: ‘Well, tomorrow we put on a game and I see it’, and as soon as I saw it, I realized that it was a phenomenon, but if you don’t see it, in this case, you should go home and leave the put to another “, he amused himself with his occurrence.
Even before the evidence of his talent, there were more chapters in history until he confirmed his link with the Blaugranas. “I was in the first team and the boy with his father came to the club and there was no one to receive them, the days went by, they got angry, and that’s when Minguella told me: ‘Do something because you are going to lose it’, and So I made a commitment to his father, taking a napkin from a bar and committing myself there to carry out everything promised, and so I put myself in front of everything, even to try to solve the situation of the father, who was a foreigner and He needed residency, but it was complicated, because the boy had to play for free, without a regular tournament due to his situation, although in the long run, I think that all these problems made him much stronger. It is not easy to be in La Masía being so small ”, Rexach continued the story.
It was December 14, the day of the signing of the commitment, which was not in a formal contract, far from it. A napkin became the declaration of fidelity. Horacio Gaggioli, contact in Spain for representatives Fabián Soldini and Martín Montero, got together to play tennis at the Pompeia del Mont Juic club with Rexach. Afterwards they stayed for lunch in the club’s confectionery and Josep Maria Minguella joined the table. Gaggioli and Minguella rushed Rexach to make a decision once and for all.
The most famous napkin in sports history reads:
In Barcelona, on December 14, 2000 and in the presence of Messrs. Minguella and Horacio Gaggioli, Carlos Rexach Technical Secretary of the FCB undertakes, under his responsibility and despite some opinions against, to sign the player Lionel Messi as long as we remain in the agreed amounts.
A few days later, they formalized that document before a notary public and the Messi began to prepare their move to Catalonia, to begin to shape the legend. Now, where is that museum piece? It was left in the hands of Gaggioli, who today lives in Andorra and keeps it in a safe at the Crèdit Andorrà bank.
He received millionaire offers for the historic document: from a US company to a Tokyo museum and an English auction house. But he will not give it to anyone or plan to sell it. I would only give it on loan to the FC Barcelona Museum, which is visited by millions of people every year. “I think it should be there, in a preferential place next to Messi’s golden balls, since that piece of paper is what changed the club’s contemporary history,” Gaggioli told Infobae in 2018.
The paper is a testament to the legend that got its kickoff on September 17, 2000.