Ernesto Vecchio, who was Lionel Messi’s first ever coach at Newell’s Old Boys, has died at the age of 65.
He gave up the ghost on Friday in his Rosario home, media reports confirm.
Vecchio was credited for harnessing the Barcelona star’s extraordinary talents.
He served as manager at Newell for 28 years, winning two championships with Messi, who once played for the club’s youth team.
“Even before he got to Newell’s, everybody was talking about the talent of a little kid who played for Abanderado Grandoli,” Vecchio said of the highly talented footballer at that time.
“I remember an instance when he took the ball on our own side of the pitch, he dribbled by everybody, took it around the keeper and then stopped because the goalkeeper had gotten injured.
“My eyes couldn’t believe what they saw.”
Messi has so far won a total 5 Ballon d’Or trophies as well as 4 Champions League titles.
Newell’s Old Boys are among those who have paid tribute to the fallen star.
The club tweeted: “We regret that Ernesto Vecchio has passed away, one of Leo Messi’s first coaches at Newell’s Old Boys, we send our condolences to his family.”
Vecchio stayed at Newell’s until 2012, before working with Argentinian side Sarmiento and Colombian team Leones FC.