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'I Faced Messi When He Was 16, I Asked To Come Off'

A legendary Italian defender has recalled how he asked to be substituted after just 15 minutes of playing against a 16-year-old Lionel Messi.

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AC Milan icon Alessandro Costacurta is considered among football's great centre-backs, having represented the Rossoneri 663 times and Italy on 59 occasions.

In a recent interview, the 54-year-old recalled his first encounter with FC Barcelona's Messi in a pre-season friendly, and admitted he could not take any more and asked Carlo Ancelotti to remove him from the game after a short while.

"I faced Messi when he was only 16 years old," Costacurta told Marca.

"At first, I saw him as a child and did what he wanted.

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"After a quarter of an hour I had to ask Ancelotti to replace me."

Costacurta, who went up against Diego Maradona many times in his career, then added that he believes Messi is more special than his Argentine predecessor.

"They are similar because of their genius and the way they express themselves on the field, but Messi is more genius than Maradona," he added.

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"The difference is that we could do 66 fouls to Maradona before being warned. With Leo it is different, football is now something else."

Do you think Messi is a better player than Maradona was? Let us know in the comments section below.

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