Lionel Messi has offered an insight into the struggles he faced at the start of his Barcelona career, insisting that despite plenty of "hard times" he never considered going home.
Messi rose through the ranks at La Masia before graduating to the senior squad in 2004, and he has since managed to win an astounding 34 trophies at Camp Nou, including 10 La Liga titles and four European Cups.
The Argentina international has also picked up five Ballon d'Or awards during that time, emerging as one of the finest players in the history of the game while breaking countless records for goals and assists across all competitions.
Everything has always seemed so effortless for Messi at Barcelona, but he recalls a testing period at the start of his journey, having found the transition from Argentina to Spain more difficult than he had originally anticipated.
Messi packed his bags and left Newell's Old Boys in 2001, relocating to a new continent at the tender age of 13.
“I was in Barcelona for about 15 days and then I returned to Argentina. After a few months, they called me and I said yes, that I was willing to come. Let me come here and start my dream in Barcelona. It was a happiness for me and my family,” the 32-year-old explains in an upcoming OTRO documentary on his life entitled 'Becoming Leo Messi'.
“I was looking forward to knowing if I was going to come here. The truth is that at that time I did not understand the great change I was going to be making. I was a boy. All I wanted was to come to Barcelona and play. I was not aware of the difficulty of changing and how hard it was going to be for me and my family.
“At the start, the truth is that it was tough, it was hard. The most beautiful thing is to play and not being able to play was really difficult. In the middle, I went through injuries too. When I was able to play here after two, three or four months, I got injured in my first game and I was out for another month and a half.
“They were hard times, but it never crossed my mind to go home. My brothers had gone to Argentina, my sister's adaptation was the toughest of all, she was the smallest and it was hard for them, with school and everything. They decided that my mother would go to Argentina with her.
“I was alone, and they asked me what I wanted to do, if we stayed or left, that the decision was mine and that they would support me. I was always clear that I wanted to stay.”
Messi is back doing what he does best at the start of the 2019-20 campaign, helping Barcelona rise to the Primera Division summit once again.
The diminutive forward has contributed eight goals and four assists in seven appearances, while also finding the net once in four Champions League outings.
The Spanish champions resume their latest La Liga campaign on Saturday afternoon when they travel to Leganes, before preparations begin for Borussia Dortmund's arrival at Camp Nou in a crucial European fixture on Wednesday.