FC Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi made his way to Spain as a young boy, but his early career might have been very different had River Plate signed him after he impressed during a trial.
The forward was offered a trial at River Plate in Argentina as a youngster, but was never signed by the club as they reportedly could not afford to spend money on the necessary treatment he needed for his battle with a growth hormone deficiency.
One of the River's former youth coaches, Eduardo Abrahamian, feels the club made a mistake in not signing Messi.
"He really made an impression on me in that first session, he was small, that was not a problem for us as we were looking at his technical skills, which he had in abundance," he said, according to Marca.
"He was really impressive, in the practice he scored around 12 goals, it was incredible. He was three or four days in Buenos Aires, I called the club's director general and told him to come because we had something really surprising, his technique, pace, the way he left behind other players.
"They had to speak with his father to get him to come to River. I wanted him in the club but I needed to find accommodation for his father so that he could bring his family over.
"I wanted him here as you don't see a player like Leo every day. I gave my opinion that you can't let a player like Messi go. I said that he was a player with great quality and I was told that they already had a lot of players with those qualities and that Leo wanted to go home.
"The club did not understand what the investment was going to be. When Boca (Juniors) invested in Diego Maradona, he had already played in the Primera with Argentinos Juniors but Boca took a decision and it paid off. River should have done the same with Messi."
Messi spent six years at Newell's Old Boys as a youth player before joining Barca in 2001.
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