Lionel Messi Idolized Pablo Aimar

Who did Lionel Messi look up to when he was younger? Messi exchanged jerseys with Benfica’s Pablo Aimar after Barcelona beat them in their Champions League match. Aimar was Messi’s idol growing up. Messi had this to say recently about who he looked up to when he was younger: “Of course I admired Maradona, he was a real inspiration for me. Also when Pablo Aimar started to break through, I used to really enjoy watching him play.”

Credit for image above goes to Oh My Goal.

It’s really any surprise that Messi said he looked up to fellow Argentine Pablo Aimar when he was younger? Who wouldn’t model their game after such a class soccer player? Aimar glides along with the ball when he dribbles and makes the game look easy – much like Messi now does for Barcelona.

Aimar played for River Plate before moving to Spain to play for Valencia, and now plays for Benfica.

“Pablo Aimar was, and is, my idol. I really like to watch him play and I have followed his career since the beginning at River Plate,” Messi said.

Benfica’s number 10 felt proud and redistributed the feeling towards Lionel Messi, underlining the importance of being a down to earth person.

“It feels me with pride that the best player in the world says that. I thank him sincerely for those words and I think it’s also because I have affection for him.”

Need proof as to why Messi looked up to Aimar? Just take a look at this control and turn by Aimar when he played for Valencia and faced off against Barcelona.

And take a look at this dribbling run by Aimar and the finish. Looks a bit like Messi doesn’t it.

Or how about his ability to shield the soccer ball from David Beckham. Sure, Beckham’s not known for his defensive talents, but Aimar shows how strong he is on the ball even though he’s small in stature and then a throws in a clever turn.