EXCLUSIVE: Guillem Balague talks to Lionel Messi about injuries, family and Ronaldo
In an exclusive interview for Yahoo Sport, Guillem Balague, author of the first authorised biography of Lionel Messi, talks to the Argentine superstar about his current injury setback, his second son, and Cristiano Ronaldo.
GB: How was the day of the birth of your second child, Mateo? What was the strongest feeling that you had?
LM: It was a day when we experienced many different emotions but above all a day of great joy for us.
GB: What is a typical day in the life of Leo Messi like?
LM: Just the same as any other sportsman that has to complete his training regime and then do just the same as any other person does and rest with his family and friends.
GB: Has your perception of football changed at all since you had first Thiago and now Mateo?
LM: In a footballing sense nothing has changed but perhaps maybe it has in regards to facing those responsibilities that any father has with regards to the raising of his children.
GB: I once wrote that for competitors like yourself every defeat is like a little death. You often cried when you lost. How do you deal with defeat now that you are a father?
LM: Exactly the same way; one thing has got nothing to do with the other. I still hate losing a game, but when I arrive home I do know that I will have the consolation of seeing my sons.
GB: The world of football sometimes seems like something from another planet. Artificial debates are instigated, lies are told as if they were the truth, and great importance is given to things that matter very little. Do you sometimes feel like someone from another world, a boy in a world full of madmen?
LM: Yes, unfortunately we live in a society that lives at 1000 kms an hour, and in a sport as popular as football that grows and grows and becomes the escape valve for the problems of many people
GB: Do you reflect much on your changing role that sees you comIng back more to organise the side as well as to score? Or was it a natural development?
LM: No absolutely not, and we will carry on doing it always according to what is necessary for each game. There are moments when it is necessary to track back to help with the transition of the ball and other times where you are needed to go forward into goal scoring situations.
GB: Has it helped you having Cristiano Ronaldo around in the same era as yourself?
LM: These are things that people say. I don’t compete with Cristiano and I suppose he would not compete with me. What I want is the very best for my teams and that’s what I am working for.
GB: Do you accept that your relationship with Argentina could always be one of love-hate?
LM: The truth is I don’t because I know very well that while the majority of us Argentines are very passionate, we also treat well the stars who represent us. There are some who insult us and do not value those who play for their country, but even then I don’t reproach them because everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
GB: If you could what player in the whole world from any era would you like to play for Argentina?
LM: There are many of them and to nominate just one would be disrespectful to the rest. The whole world knows full well who have been the stars of this sport in other eras and these are the players that would be in my team.
GB: You changed your diet, your training regime? Can you tell us what it consists of now and why you changed it?
LM: This is something else about which there has been many false things said. My diet prohibits me from eating certain things that were doing me harm but that doesn’t mean that I’ve changed my whole diet or my physical training. There were some changes or replacements that worked well and I enjoy a full diet and nothing out of the ordinary.
GB: Can you ever see yourself playing in another league?
LM: I don’t want to look too far ahead. I live for the moment and at this moment I am with Barcelona in the Spanish League where I have made my living and where I live very well.
GB: Do you see much football. Do you like watching it on television?
LM: Yes, I enjoy watching football on television. Very much indeed.
GB: You told me once that you would try to read at least the beginning of the book ‘Messi’ but then, why if you already knew the story? Do you not like to look back? Or read about yourself?
LM: Quite genuinely, no. As I said earlier I prefer to live for the moment and not look either backwards or to the future.
GB: What do you dream about when you are awake?
LM: I don’t dream awake. I want to live in harmony with my family and that is living the day without dreaming. Of course I have certain hopes and ambitions but these are very personal.
GB: Who are you trying to impress what you go out onto the pitch. The fans, your father, your sons, your wife? Who do you need to tell you that you did well?
LM: I don’t need to impress anyone because that isn’t why I play. I play because I like it and because it is my profession even though to tell you the truth, I would like my sons to understand what I do.
GB: What did you feel when you were injured? What was going through your head?
LM: A strange feeling, different from other times. I knew that it wasn’t a minor hit and that it was something more serious than just a slight knock.
GB: How do you feel today?
LM: Upbeat, wanting to get on with my recovery. Being injured is the worst feeling in the world for a sportsman, but right from the start I accepted that I had an injury and that the only thing to do was to recover from it the best way possible. The most important thing for me is to be at 100% fitness.
GB: How are you with your surroundings and your friends when you are injured? Are you easy to be around?
LM: As I said, the truth is I knew I was injured right from the start, and although at first you are obviously worried, after the diagnosis and all the repercussions emanating from the injury you understand that you have to be patient. I don’t think it was difficult for me to accept and take on board.
GB: When do you think you will be touching a football again?
LM: When the way I’m feeling and the doctors tell me that I can. I am improving every day without setting myself any targets. I have always said that I don’t set myself any dates because it isn’t up to me. As much as I would like to play tomorrow, the doctors wouldn’t let me. When they tell me that I have recovered completely will be the time that I will make my return onto the pitch.
The Spanish version of this conversation is published here: www.guillembalague.com