Real Madrid legend Fernando Hierro has admitted he’s glad that he never had to face Lionel Messi during his career.
“I consider myself privileged not to have played against Leo Messi. Maradona was my idol during my childhood. What Messi has been doing in the last 15 years is something out of the ordinary.”
Hierro spent over 14 years with Los Blancos, winning five league titles and lifting the European Cup three times. The defender left Real Madrid in the summer of 2003 just months before Messi made his debut for Barcelona in November of the same year.
Messi Is the Clasico King
Messi has caused Real Madrid plenty of pain during his glittering career, particularly in games between the two fierce rivals. The Barca star has scored more goals in the famous fixture than any other player. He has 26 which puts him far ahead of Alfredo Stefano and Cristiano Ronaldo on 18.
The Barcelona captain also memorably brought up his 500th goal for his club at the Santiago Bernabeu. Messi struck a late winner to hit the landmark and secure a 3-2 win for the Catalan giants in April 2017.
Luis Enrique was manager of Barcelona at the time and offered his thoughts on the captain in his post-match press conference.
“Messi is decisive even when he is at home eating dinner. He is the best player in history and I have seen a lot of football and many videos. He has scored 500 goals and it is a great pleasure for all the Barca fans to identify with him as one of them.”
Messi Battling Real Madrid Again
Fast forward to this season and Messi is once again battling it out with Real Madrid for the title in 2019-20. Just two points separate the two teams at the top of La Liga with 10 games left to play.
The Barcelona captain has once again been the Catalans’ inspiration. His 20 goals and 14 assists from 23 league games have propelled Quique Setien’s side to the brink of another league title.
Messi was on target again at the weekend in Barca’s 4-0 win over Real Mallorca in a performance that drew more praise from his manager.
“Leo is fine. You don’t only have to assess the goals he scored, but also the rest of his contributions, like assisting. That gives us a lot of points. It’s an astronomical number. I think he’s reached 700 goals and that’s why he’s the best player in the world.”
The Argentine turns 33 later this month but has shown few signs of slowing down in 2019-20 as he eyes an 11th league title with Barcelona.