Lionel Messi is awestruck as he swaps shirts with Zinedine Zidane

Lionel Messi is awestruck as he swaps shirts with Zinedine Zidane after the superstar duo reflect on their glittering careers… and the former Real Madrid manager reveals his toughest ever opponent

  • Lionel Messi and Zinedine Zidane looked back at their incredible football careers
  • The pair briefly crossed paths during their playing days in the Spanish top-flight
  • ‘It’s Erik ten Games’ – surely he has to beat Luton now – It’s All Coming Up

Lionel Messi and Zinedine Zidane looked back on their incredible careers in a wide ranging interview in which the Frenchman revealed his toughest-ever opponent. 

The legends reflected on their time in the game before swapping their iconic No 10 jersey’s in a heartwarming moment. 

Messi was unable to conceal his delight upon receiving the gift and said ‘What a shirt’ as Zidane penned his signature on the France jersey the former midfielder wore when leading his nation to the final of the 2006 World Cup. 

The chat, facilitated by Adidas and filmed in Miami, covered plenty of topics including the question of who Zidane found it hardest to go up against. 

‘The toughest player? Well, not the toughest player, but the hardest one was Paolo Maldini,’ he said. ‘Because he was very smart, intelligent on the field.’

Messi was caught in a heart warming gaze at the former Real Madrid and France star Zidane

Zidane and Messi exchanged signed international shirts at the end of the conversation

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Zidane named two of the eras greatest defenders in AC Milan legend Paolo Maldini (left) and his former France team-mate Lilian Thuram (right)

‘And [Lilian] Thuram. He was tough. When he is on your team, you are happy. But if he is playing against you, you are not.’

Zidane played for Real Madrid from 2001 to 2006, while Messi debuted for Barcelona’s first team in 2004 and spent 17 years at the club.

The pair faced off in El Clasico in 2005, while Messi also frequently went against Zidane as a coach. The 51-year-old was the manager of Los Blancos from 2019 to 2021. 

The duo shared their regrets at never getting the chance to play alongside one another, with Zidane saying: ‘It’s a pity that we couldn’t play together. This is the moment for me to pass you the ball.’

He added: ‘Today is a very important day for me because I can tell him how much I admire him. I think it is magic, pure magic.’

The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner returned the praise, replying: ‘I have always admired him and liked him a lot. I followed him a lot in Madrid. And he made made me suffer a lot too because I was from Barcelona.’


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