Highlights of a 21-year-old Lionel Messi at the 2008 Olympics have gone viral, with fans in disbelief at the level he was performing.
Messi had become a regular in the Barcelona side and scored 16 goals in all competitions in the 2007/08 campaign ahead of the games in Beijing.
He was initially banned from partaking part in the tournament by Barca but incoming manager Pep Guardiola, who had won Gold with Spain in 1992, forced the Blaugrana to reverse their decision.
Messi went and matched that achievement, completing running the show as Argentina won all six of their games on the way to that coveted Gold medal.
La Albiceleste's squad, primarily made up of Under 23 players, was packed with talent. Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria, Ever Banega, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Pablo Zabaleta, Fernando Gago and Juan Roman Riquelme all featured.
But it was Messi who proved to be the talisman and stand-out player. He scored the opening goal in the first game against Ivory Coast, notched one and assisted the other in the quarter-final victory over Netherlands, before providing the all-important assist for Di Maria's winner in the final against Nigeria.
His highlights from the tournament have accrued a whopping 1.8 million views and show a truly frightening level of footballing ability.
Messi, wearing the No.15 shirt, jinked in and out of players with ease and provided inch-perfect passes and deft finishes in big situations.
Argentina won their second Gold medal and Messi, still young and developing, was comfortably the best player in the tournament.
The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner has since gone on to win a staggering amount of trophies and finally won silverware with his country at the Copa America last summer, before lifting the Finalissima trophy following a 3-0 win over European champions Italy recently.
But for Messi the Gold medal is right up there with his biggest achievements.
"The Olympic gold in 2008 is the win that I value the most because it is a tournament that you may play only once in your life and involves many athletes from different disciplines,” Messi said during a 2017 interview with Spanish Esquire.
Featured Image Credit: Image: Alamy & Twitter
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