Kevin-Prince Boateng admits he felt so “inadequate” training alongside Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi that he considered retiring from football.
Boateng – who previously played for Tottenham and Portsmouth – joined Barca from Serie A side Sassuolo in a surprising six-month loan move in January last year.
The attacking midfielder made a total of four appearances for the Catalan giants, picking up a La Liga winners’ medal before joining Fiorentina in July 2019.
During his brief spell at Camp Nou, Boateng lined up with superstars including Philippe Coutinho, Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets.
But unsurprisingly it was six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi – who scored 51 goals that season – that left him spellbound in training.
“Training with Messi left me speechless. I had always said that Cristiano Ronaldo was the best in the world, but Messi is something else. He’s not normal.
“While training with him, I felt inadequate for the first time in my career. He was doing incredible things. I felt like saying, ‘I’m done, I’m going to quit playing!'”
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Boateng currently plies his trade with Serie B side Monza, for whom he has scored two goals in six games.
During his 16-year playing career, the 33-year-old has had spells with clubs in England, Germany, Italy, Spain and Turkey.
Boateng insists his journey has been “beautiful” but admits he struggled to find happiness during his time with Spurs between 2007 and 2009.
The former Ghana international added: “When I was young, at Tottenham, it’s true: I bought three luxury cars in one day, but there was so much pain inside me.
“I was trying to buy happiness. I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t playing. I wasn’t well and so I was looking for something else. Sure, I would change that part of my past.
“Often, I trusted only my talent and, with the talent I have, without being arrogant, I could have done a lot more. Although, I have had a beautiful career anyway.”
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