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“Ourmotivation is tomake history with Barcelona”

With Barcelona, though, there must be that sense of wanting to make history – becoming the first team to win back-to-back Champions League titles, for example? To be the first team to win two consecutive Champions Leagues would be a fantastic and historic thing for the club. Our motivation is to make history with Barça, and if we keep working day by day with the same desire and togetherness, and if injuries and luck are kind to us, anything is possible.

And what about your own game? How can you possibly improve on last season, when you scored 53 goals in 55 games?! You can always improve some aspects, because to be 100 per cent perfect is almost impossible, but the most important thing is that the team wins. If I’m lucky enough to score on top of that, all the better, but I’m not obsessed with scoring a lot of goals. If we carry on winning titles, scoring 53 goals is secondary.

What do you do to make sure you retain that hunger to carry on winning and carry on scoring? My only motivation is to wake up every day happy, because you are having fun managing your professional obligations and your personal life. My first thought is having fun. I consider that a good way to reach my objectives – winning titles with my team.

LIONEL MESSI

And how do you go about managing those obligations when there’s so much pressure on you and interest in you? I try not to change my own lifestyle, and keep relationships with my friends and family independent from my football career. I’m just a normal guy who happens to play football for a living.

You come in for some very special treatment on the pitch sometimes,

though. How do you manage to keep your cool when you keep getting fouled? And do you ever worry about getting injured? Football’s a contact sport and opponents try to defend themselves in the best way they can. What I hate most about football is violence, so I try to stick to just playing football, which is the main reason why people come and watch us. I don’t think about getting injured, nor do I want to think about it.

Finally, you’ve turned from footballer to fashionista for these pictures with Dolce & Gabbana. We’re not used to seeing you like this. How did it feel to get suited and booted by one of the world’s most famous designer labels? I prefer playing football, but I like good clothes, so I’m lucky. The most important thing is to feel comfortable in what you wear and Dolce & Gabbana make me feel comfortable, and I like the look.

Did you get any tips from any of your team-mates before the shoot? All my team-mates are good dressers, but Gerard Pique has done a lot of fashion shoots – he’s a very fashionable man!

To see more Leo in Dolce & Gabbana, visit dolcegabbana.com/leo-messi

“SUITS YOU, MR MESSI”

When Leo met Dolce & Gabbana

“Our main objective was to make Leo a style icon off the pitch as much as he is when he is playing,” explains Stefano Gabbana, one half of high-end fashion’s most revered double act.

“Leo is, like all sportsmen, into looking after his body and his image,” agrees Domenico Dolce, dispelling the suggestion that Messi isn’t a natural clothes horse. “He’s always loved wearing Dolce & Gabbana. During the ceremony when he was presented with the Ballon D’Or last year, he was wearing one of our tuxedos.”

So how did the world’s greatest player handle the fashion shoot? “He was a pro,” says Gabbana, “stripping himself of his footballer uniform and interpreting the Dolce & Gabbana man.” Indeed, the transformation from reluctant star to style icon is proof that where Messi is concerned, anything is possible.

THE RECORD-BREAKER Messi overtook Rivaldo to become Barcelona’s highest ever scorer in the Champions League with a four-goal, one-man show against Arsenal in the 2010 quarter-finals. Typically, Messi himself remains modest. “The match was fantastic, but I wouldn’t classify it as the best game I’ve played in the Champions League because I scored four goals. There have been other games that, without scoring four, I’ve played well.”

THAT CELEBRATION Messi celebrated what turned out to be the winning goal against Manchester United in last season’s final by taking out his joy on a nearby TV microphone at Wembley. Just what was going through his mind? “I cannot remember. Any time you score the satisfaction is very big, but to score in the final of the Champions League, the euphoria is bigger and during some seconds, just after scoring, you are in a dream.”

FourFourTwo.com October 2011 59

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