Lionel Messi has given an interview to Diario Olé, where the Barcelona and Argentina player discusses his personal life, from his passions outside football to the secret of his mother’s cooking.

Earliest memories

When I was four or five years old I was already playing with a ball, as soon as I started walking. I remember my first Grandoli games, on the pitch. I have brothers and older cousins and we always got together to play. I don’t remember the first ball but I always had it with me, then I started to play at a club.

The distance from home

I always cried when I went back from Rosario. I wanted to go back to continue doing the same thing but it was hard to leave everything I had. I knew it would be at least six months before I went back home. I also lost many friends, it was very difficult to communicate. Today any 13 or 14 year old has a phone, but not at that time. Even more so in Argentina, it was very difficult and relationships were lost. I stopped talking to many people because of the distance.

Puyol’s mask

At that time I was in Cadets, I think I was 14 or 15 years old… And one weekend, in a match against Espanyol, I was elbowed and my cheekbone was fractured. The following weekend we were playing in the final of the Copa Catalunya, which was played at that time and I don’t know if it’s still played… And at that age, it’s like a very important tournament. The same thing had happened to Puyol and he had played with a mask for I don’t know how long. And they gave it to me, and I played with it. I trained a couple of times, I went in to play for five minutes and it was impossible, it was too big for me, it moved all over the place. So I took it off. I played for a while, I think I scored two goals and we won 3-0. And after 30 minutes they took me off. My old man was shouting at the coach not to play without a mask, to take him off, I don’t know, and in the end, they took me off. But at that moment I didn’t realise the danger, what could happen. I wanted to play no matter what. In those moments it bothered me, I put my head down and I couldn’t see the ball, so I took it off and kept playing.

Family life

The truth is that we don’t go out much because of the kids’ day-to-day life. We have three and in the end, you end up adapting to their routine. They get out of school and do something. You pick them up and they do something, until 8.30 or 9 when we eat, without them falling asleep… You make them eat, they fall asleep and we fall asleep too. You end up shattered.

I am lucky enough to be with them practically all day, to be able to take them to school, pick them up, take them to football, to other activities and I love that. What I enjoy most is waking up and having breakfast with them… Although sometimes you want to kill them (laughs).

His sons Thiago and Mateo

Thiago doesn’t like it, he doesn’t like to be recognised… His character is very shy and he has a hard time. And Mateo is just the opposite, he doesn’t care about being recognised, or that they say this or that, it doesn’t matter to him. Thiago gets down and finds it a bit harder. But they both realise that.

School

To be honest, I didn’t like studying and it was hard for me, but I always behaved well. I went to secondary school here in Spain. I didn’t pay attention, it was hard for me, but I was good, I behaved well.

Other passions

I like padel, I watch tennis. I play a lot with Pepe Costa, I run and he shows his quality! We don’t play a lot either because we have matches every three days but I like it.

The difficulty with being Messi

The issue of going out. Sometimes you want to go unnoticed and get into places where there are a lot of people or in a shopping centre, it’s more complicated. It’s just that there are times when you want to be without that pressure.

The secret of his mother’s homemade milanesa

The sauce that goes on top of the milanesa! I have eaten a lot of very good ones but that is the first one, the one I used to eat at home. Others have also tried them and they say it’s true. It’s the one I ate when I was a kid.

Winning the Copa del Rey

The Copa del Rey was special because of the spell we were going through. The club is coming from a couple of years of where we weren’t doing well. It’s a very young dressing room, with a lot of new faces, and this recent Copa del Rey success was a turning point for the dressing room and a very important one.