Ronaldinho told Kobe Bryant that Lionel Messi would become the greatest player of all time when he was just 17 years of age.
The NBA legend, who tragically died in a helicopter crash last year, previously spoke in a Spanish interview about the time he first met Messi.
Kobe was a football fan and enjoyed following BarcelonaGetty Images – Getty
Messi looked up to Ronaldinho in his early days at BarcelonaGetty Images – Getty
In the interview, Kobe explained: “I’ll tell you a story. A long time ago, Barcelona came to Los Angeles.
“Ronaldinho, who was a good friend, I was talking with him and he told me, ‘Kobe, look I’m going to introduce you to the guy who is going to be the greatest player of all time.’
“I said, ‘You what? You are the best.’
“But he said, ‘No, no. This kid right here is going to be the best.’
“And that guy was Lionel Messi, who was only 17.”
Messi fulfilled Ronaldinho’s prophecy and proved his greatness in the years that followed.
In 2012, Messi and Kobe even starred in an advert for Turkish airlines together, in which they both showed off their talents to a star struck child.
Just two weeks before his death, Bryant told CNN about Messi: “He’s [Messi] one of the best athletes of all time – his tenacity, intelligence with which he plays as well as his skill.
“It just puts him head and shoulders above the rest.”