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'Don?t want to put pressure on myself'

The Argentine footballer Lionel Messi said the good thing about Argentina is the atmosphere of the group is very good.

india Updated: May 28, 2006 01:29 IST

No player has had such a meteoric rise to the top during the last year as Lionel Messi. Up until April 2005, the Argentine hadn't scored for Barcelona and was not a first-team regular. He was only 17-year-old and not even what you might call a brilliant prospect. But one season later Messi has been converted into a world-class star. Messi is now surrounded by million-pound commercial deals and he is the sixth most expensive footballer in the world.

Messi is shy. He is 18, and doesn't have too much to say for himself. He has a very carefree attitude and it's obvious that only football interests him. Excerpts:

What are your aspirations for the World Cup?

I’m lucky enough to be in the squad and want to do everything I can to help Argentina win.

You have become one of your country's most important players.

But I have just started. There are a lot of players in the side with more experience than me, but the good thing about Argentina is the atmosphere of the group is very good and I am always made to feel really comfortable.

Is Pablo Aimar still your idol? Will you, as a student, end up better than the teacher?

No, please! Aimar is a great player. I am nowhere near him and have a long way to go to be like him. I have always tried to copy him. Since the River Plate days I have been following him.

The chances at the World Cup.

We have a great team. We have a lot of world-class players.

At only 18 youo have the chance to play for Argentina.

It's so good, sometimes it doesn't seem real! It's the best thing that can happen to a player. It's a dream. But I don't want to put pressure on myself. First I have to properly get over my injury.

Which teams will be in the final?

I hope it's Argentina. But there are a lot of other very strong teams such as Brazil, France, Italy and Germany, who I'm sure will raise their game considerably because they are the hosts.

And you could face Ronaldinho.

Yes, for sure. I have a lot of affection for him. He has helped me so much at Barcelona. He is the greatest player in the world but is very humble. For me, he is a role model and I always want the best for him.