The now-Manchester City manager has explained some of the details behind his successful time as coach of the Blaugrana
Former Barcelona head coach Pep Guardiola has said that, as soon as he saw Lionel Messi play for the first time, he knew the club would ‘win everything’.
The now-Manchester City boss took charge of 247 games at Barcelona, winning La Liga three times, the Copa del Rey twice and two Champions Leagues, among other silverware.
Under Guardiola’s tutelage, Messi was remoulded as a false-nine and began to produce some of the best numbers of his career.
In his second season under Guardiola, the Argentine more than doubled his goal tally from the year before as he sped through the early stages of his trajectory towards becoming the best soccer professional in Barcelona’s history.
“I had already been told by someone from the squad that there was a very good soccer professional in the squad. They told me that he was very young but scored many goals and he was very good,” Guardiola told Catalunya Radio. of his early impressions of Messi.
“I did not know him and one day I saw him and his father at a Nike store. I saw him, he looked small and shy and I thought: ‘Is this one as good as they say?’
“We started pre-season in Scotland, we won 6-1, 5-0 and he would score three goals a game for you. I thought that, with him, we would win everything.”
Guardiola also praised the culture of the squad he coached at Barcelona, speaking of the special bond he retains with that group to this day.
He said: “There was not much time to, but I enjoyed the process of building the team; seeing that the changes we made worked and everything was flowing; how they were brought together, the chemistry, the respect.
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“They were a group of friends who went out to dinner often; a group that knew how to move forward in moments of difficulty.
“All this was very good, but the importance of leading such a big club as Barca means that you do not have much time to enjoy it.
“The relationship that we have with those who formed part of that group has been insurmountable. There are no championships or world titles that can compensate. We gave each other a lot. But there has been a moment, due to the natural process of time, that things end.”