Messi's story started with a napkin

Soon a very special piece of paper will disappear under the auction hammer. A napkin that paved the way for the career of none other than Lionel Messi. The artfully daubed sheet contains the promises of a contract between the young Messi and FC Barcelona. According to the auction house: 'One of the most exciting objects ever'.

So one of the most iconic documents in the history of football is nothing less than a napkin. The very first promise of a contract was written on this to keep the then 13-year-old Lionel Messi for FC Barcelona. The piece of paper changed the course of both the club and Messi himself, who went on to become one of the greatest players of all time. 

Messi's recruitment did not go without a hitch. For example, his height was a point of discussion, as was the amount spent on the then only 13-year-old player. Messi was discovered by Barcelona when he played for Newell's Old Boys at the age of twelve. Messi and his father Jorge were flown to Barcelona for a trial, but negotiations came to a standstill. 

The Famous Napkins | Bonhams


By December 2000, Jorge was becoming a little impatient with the club's lack of commitment. He was waiting for a final decision. Rexach, Barcelona's technical director at the time, sensed that the situation was critical and decided to meet for lunch with Minguella and Gaggioli. He pulled a paper napkin from a dispenser on the table and began to write. The text reads as follows: 'In Barcelona, ​​on December 14, 2000, in the presence of Josep Minguella and Horacio (Gaggioli), Carles Rexach, FCB's technical director, under his responsibility and despite some objections from others, offers a contract to Lionel Messi, as long as we adhere to the agreed amounts.

The napkin did its job. That evening, club president Joan Gaspart finally confirmed the deal. This time on sturdier paper. The rest is of course history… 

You can bid on this piece of sporting history during an online auction from March 18 to 27 by auction house Bonhams. The starting price? €350.000.