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Lionel Messi has admitted he “deeply regrets” missing Barcelona’s team celebrations after beating Arsenal 2–1 in the 2006 Champions League final in Paris.
Sol Campbell had put the Gunners on course for a famous victory in the French capital but late goals from Samuel Eto’o and Juliano Belletti turned to match on its head, as Barcelona went on to be crowned European champions for a second time.
Messi, who was just 18 at the time, was forced to miss the match because of a hamstring injury and later refused to attend a celebratory night out with his team-mates.
Reflecting on his decision to snub the celebrations, Messi admitted he was “just thinking about not having played”.
“I’m sorry I didn’t [go out]. I didn’t realise what was happening,” Messi told AS.
“At least I would have liked to be on the bench that night. Until my injury, [against Chelsea in the round of 16], I participated in every Champions League game in my career.
“I was disappointed. I deeply regret that episode. We won that Champions League and I was not sure what would happen again because it is a difficult competition to win.”
Messi would go on to win the Champions League a further three times with Barcelona, in 2009, 2011 and 2015, before leaving the club to join Paris Saint-Germain in August.
The 34-year-old added yet more silverware to his collection this week after winning the Ballon d’Or for a record seventh time, ahead of Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski.
Despite his numerous accomplishments, Messi says he doesn’t know if he’s the greatest player of all time and is merely happy to be among the candidates.
“I never said, thought, or even tried to come to terms with this idea [of being the greatest],” he told France Football.
“For me, just being able to be considered or cited as one of the best players in the world is more than enough. It is something that I would never have dared to imagine or dream of.
“But… I don’t know how to put it so that it’s not misinterpreted. It’s not that I’m not interested in it, but, let’s say that I don’t not give much importance to all that.
“It doesn’t change anything for me to be the best or not. And I never tried to be either.”
Former Barcelona and Brazil striker Rivaldo says Messi deserved to win the Ballon d’Or this year but is not the greatest player in history.
“He will be remembered as one of the best players ever, but it’s tough to say he already is the best, as he is still chasing a World Cup title with Argentina,” Rivaldo told betfair.
“Other players, such as Pele, won the World Cup many times so I don’t think Messi should be considered the best ever.
“He is up there, though, and would make the top three.”
Featured Image Credit: PA Images
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