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MARCA interviews MessiArgentine superstar tells us how he is away from the spotlight

What remains of that child who arrived in Barcelona, aged 13 and full of enthusiasm?

“My dreams and desires remain the same. Obviously, a lot of time has passed since then and many things have happened, both on and off the pitch.”

How has your family life changed, with the stability of your relationship with Antonella Roccuzzo and the birth of your children?

“It’s a very big change in every respect. You start to see different things and in a different way. The truth is that being a father is the most beautiful thing that’s happened to me in all my life. We have two children and are waiting for another; the first was an incredible feeling, the second the same and so will be the third.”

How is day to day life with your children? The other day we saw a photo of you reading a story with Thiago.
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“My day to day life is very much based around the kids. In the morning I take them to school and when I come back from training I practically leave straight away to pick up Thiago. When he finishes school, we try to spend time together with Antonella and Mateo until dinner. We put them to bed and then not much else, spending time amongst ourselves to pass the time. Everything that a normal family does.”

Do they ask to play football with you at home?

“They don’t tend to ask me to play football with them, sometimes they do, even Mateo who is the youngest. Thiago is already going to training, but they don’t often ask me to play.”

And when you throw the ball to Mateo, he throws it back with his right or left hand?

“Right, they’re both right handed.”

When you get home do you talk football with Antonella and the kids or are you able to leave that at the door and disconnect completely?

“We talk very little about football at home, something very big has to happen at the club or in the national team for it to be a subject at home.”

What do your children ask you? Do they understand who Lionel Messi is?

“Obviously Mateo doesn’t yet, he finds it strange when someone comes and asks for a photo or an autograph. He doesn’t understand. Thiago is starting to understand, more or less but not quite. He likes to go to the stadium and watch games, but he doesn’t fully understand. Sometimes at home he sees me and calls me Messi like the fans do, he doesn’t quite understand.”

What will you do in the future? Will you be a coach or do you see yourself living quietly and playing golf?

“I don’t know what I’ll do. We’ve spoken several times as a family about how I’ll occupy my time once my football career is over, but it’s not something that is settled. I always said that I don’t see myself as a coach, I don’t have a feeling for it. In a few years, that may change but I still have several years left and then we’ll see. When the end is near, something will be done.”

A colleague of yours told me that you’re naturally quite hefty, is it more the case that you focus on physical workouts or on your diet?

“It’s nothing special, I have taken care of my diet for years. After training I strengthen my legs but I’m not really one for the gym.”

Do you like to cook?

“No, I never really have. I would be able to make something, but I wouldn’t market it.”

Tell us something that you’ve cut out your diet that you really liked?

“That would be chocolate, that’s the most difficult thing for me. Even now, from time to time, I sin with chocolate.”

Is taking a siesta still important in your routine?

“No, not anymore. The truth is that I miss it. When I’m with the national team, that’s the only chance I take to nap. Now I don’t have time, because of the kids.”

Do you get to watch many matches?

“Yes, I like to. I still follow football a lot.”

Do you follow any particular competition?

“I watch everything in general, obviously the leagues in Spain, England and Argentina, although my schedule has an impact on that. I follow a little bit of everything.”

Ligue 1 too?

“Yeah, a little more now than before.”

Is it easy to be Lionel Messi?

“I’m a normal person who tries to have a family life. Yes, it’s true that I’d like to go unnoticed and have a normal life without everyone watching me from time to time.”

(Luis F. Rojo)