?Former Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard has heaped praise on both Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta upon his return to the Camp Nou.
Nowadays, Rijkaard is enjoying his retirement, having announced back in December 2016 that he no longer wishes to pursue a position in management.
The Dutchman enjoyed a successful five years with Barcelona, winning both the Champions League (2005/06) and La Liga twice (2004/05, 2005/06). Rijkaard’s biggest achievement however, was quite possibly handing a 17-year-old Lionel Messi his debut 13 years ago.
13 years later and a lot has changed for Riijkard, but his admiration for Messi has not.
“Now I am a family man and I am happy to have seen another Barcelona game,” the Dutchman told Marca, as he returned to watch Barcelona’s 2-2 home draw to Celta Vigo last Saturday, a game in which Messi scored.
“He [Messi] is a god for everyone.”
Since his debut back in 2004, the record five-time Ballon d’Or winner has gone on to become one of the world’s greatest ever players.
Despite turning 30 in the summer, Messi remains invaluable not only to to Rijkaard but to Barcelona. Having signed a new contract – which includes a £616m buyout clause – Barcelona have managed to keep their prized asset for the foreseeable future.
Rijkaard also saved praise for another of his former players: “and also you have to give considerable praise to Andres Iniesta.”
Like Messi, Iniesta signed a new ‘lifetime’ contract with Barcelona back in October, guaranteeing that the Spaniard will finish his career where it started.
Iniesta too was handed the opportunity to play regular football by Riijkard and, like the Argentinian, he was instrumental during Riijkard’s successful reign as Barcelona manager
Rijkaard confirmed that he keeps an eye on all his former players, adding: “I continue to watch all the players from afar, they have had great careers.”