"DOCTORS RESCUED MESSI'S LIFE AS A DWARF" - Actual Mirror headline from Feb 2006

While Jose Mourinho and his Blues were furious with Lionel Messi's part in Asier del Horno's red card, the jeers of the Stamford Bridge boo boys were as much a sign of the damage the tiny Argentinian was doing to them.

But if Messi's poor steelworker family had not had relatives in Barcelona five years ago, the world could have been denied his talents altogether.

Messi, then 13, was playing for Newells Old Boys when a move to the schoolboy books of Buenos Aires giants River Plate fell through after a routine medical detected hormonal problems in his bones that were related to a mild form of dwarfism.

At the time, Messi was just 4ft 8in tall and when Newells refused to pay for his treatment his desperate family sent him over to their relatives in Spain where a trial with Barca was arranged.

Despite his lack of stature, Messi scored five goals against older boys and was offered a contract on the spot, with Barca happy to foot the bill for his medical treatment which involved injecting hormones into himself every day.

Still only 5ft 7in, Messi was a giant on Wednesday night and he admitted the jeers had only made him more determined.

Messi said: "The boos didn't bother me at all to be honest. It made me want to do more, especially for our fans who came here.

"If we play at home like we did at Chelsea we will have no problems in going through. This was the most important result. We know if we get the ball down and play we will score plenty of goals against them.

"It would have been nice for me to score and I had a few chances but what matters was the result. It was a strong game and showed how we like to play. We deserved it by the way we played."

/r/soccer Thread Link - mirror.co.uk