Barcelona captain, Lionel Messi – a basketball fan, has joined the sport’s afficionadoes around the world to pay tribute to Argentina basketball superstar, Manu Ginobilli, who announced his retirement on Monday, putting an end to a legendary career.
The Argentina and former San Antonio Spurs basketball star called it a day after winning four NBA rings, a Euroleague, a world silver, a gold and an Olympic bronze, according to Marca.
In addition, on the individual level, the Argentine was awarded two All Stars, the best Sixth Man of the NBA, MVP of the Euroleague Final and the MVP of the Italian league.
Diego Maradona, Paulo Dybala, LeBron James and a host of other NBA stars had already recognised the legacy that Ginobili leaves.
But, the Barcelona forward, who met the former San Antonio Spurs star at the Olympic Games in Bejiing in 2008, took to Facebook to send a personal message to his compatriot.
“Thank you Manu Ginobilli, for making us enjoy basketball so much. It’s not going to be the same without you on the court, all the luck in the world for your new chapter,” Messi said.
It is not the first time that the footballer has spoken about Ginobili as in 2013 he was in charge of writing the prologue for the basketballer’s ‘The Lord of Talents’ biography, which was put together by Argentine journalist Julian Mozo.
“I know that several NBA players wear the No. 10 shirt in my honour and that is something very special, as well as hearing praise from superstars like LeBron James , Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant,” he said back then.
“But none of them struck me as much as Manu’s, when he came out to support me after the 2011 Copa America in Argentina.
“That someone like him, a sportsman of his level and commitment, has supported me in that way means a lot”.
“It makes me very proud to hear a journalist say that Manu is the Messi of basketball, in fact they should say that I am the Manu of football,” Messi wrote, when describing the retired shooting guard.”