Dirty Tackle

The napkin that started Leo Messi’s career is 12 years old

Possibly the most important napkin in sporting history (sport.es)Possibly the most important napkin in sporting history (sport.es)

On Dec. 14, 2000, Barcelona technical secretary Carles Rexach held a meeting at the Pompeia Tennis Club to determine the future of a 13-year-old Argentinean who had shined during a trial with the Catalan club a few months previously.

Rexach was keen to get a deal done with Lionel Messi's father Jorge, so the club could start pumping the youngster full of the growth hormones that would make him a superstar. He drew up a contract on the nearest available piece of paper, which ended up turning a regular napkin into one of the most important sporting documents in history.

It reads:

"In Barcelona, on the 14th of December of 2000 and in the presence of Josep Minguella and Horacio [Gaggioli], Carles Rexach, FCB technical secretary, it commits under his responsibility and despite some views against it to sign the player Lionel Messi, as long as we remain within the amounts agreed upon."

The document is now 12 years old — nearly the same age as Messi when his future was decided on a disposable piece of paper that a Spanish businessman might otherwise have spat his tapas into. The hallowed face wipe was hanging in the office of Messi's lawyer a few years ago, where it presumably still lives today.

Image: sport.es; Translation: dawn.com

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