The napkin on which 13-year-old Lionel Messi signed his first contract with Barcelona will be auctioned in March for a starting price of 300,000 pounds ($381,000), British auction house Bonhams said on Wednesday.
The napkin was signed in December, 2000 when Carles Rexach, then Barca’s sporting director, agreed with Jorge Messi, Messi’s father, and agent Horacio Gaggioli to recruit the Argentine teenager who went on to become the club’s all-time top scorer.
The pivotal moment in football history happened after Rexach invited Messi senior to have lunch over his concerns at the lack of response following his son’s initial trials at the Spanish club.
“In Barcelona, on 14 December 2000 and in the presence of Messrs Minguella and Horacio, Carles Rexach, FC Barcelona’s sporting director, hereby agrees, under his responsibility and regardless of any dissenting opinions, to sign the player Lionel Messi, provided that we keep to the amounts agreed upon,” is written on the napkin from the Pompeia tennis club.
The agreement, ratified by then club president Joan Gaspart, was formally signed that same night and a month later Barcelona completed the signing of Messi to begin his 20-year stay at the Catalan club.
The eight-times Ballon d’Or winner helped Barca win 35 titles, making a record 782 appearances and scoring 674 goals.