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Messi made his Barcelona debut 15 years ago

Real Madrid v F.C. Barcelona

MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 19: Ronaldinho (L) of Barcelona celebrates with Lionel Messi after scoring a goal during the Primera Liga match between Real Madrid and F.C. Barcelona at the Bernabeu on November 19, 2005 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

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The legend of Lionel Messi became known to the world outside of Rosario and Barcelona 15 years ago today.

In a friendly match on November 16, 2003 inaugurating Porto’s Estadio do Dragao - built for the upcoming Euro 2004 tournament - Frank Rijkaard and Barcelona traveled west with many reserve and youth players, as most of the first team stars were away on international duty.

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Messi, who was just 16-years old at the time and began the season five levels below the first team in Juveniles B, had impressed in a rare chance to play against the first team players and was brought along in the traveling squad. In the 75th minute, Rijkaard brought on Messi to play as a forward, and he created a pair of chances, nearly scoring on a sloppy pitch.

Though it was 11 months before he made his La Liga debut and another year before he became a first team mainstay, the legend of Messi was born in Portugal as the young Argentine finally took the field. Fun fact: Porto’s coach on that day? The one and only Jose Mourinho.

Barcelona released a documentary on Messi’s Barcelona debut, with Messi re-watching his performance and providing his comments and memories. Watch it below: