Lionel Messi on Tuesday attributed his stunning achievements to hard work and sacrifice as his Barcelona side prepare for the first game of their Asian tour in Thailand.
The Spanish champions have returned to Asia three years after their last tour of the continent - home to a huge fan base and prime marketing territory.
After facing Thailand’s national side on Wednesday, Barca travel to Kuala Lumpur to play a Malaysia XI on August 10 before returning to Europe.
Quizzed on the secret of his success at a Unicef event in Bangkok, the Argentine four-time World Player of the Year said dedication was the only route to the top.
“You have to fight to reach your dream. You have to sacrifice and work hard for it,” he said.
“Training is very important. Now we have no competition we are training a lot. When the season starts we have to play matches so we will train only one or two hours a day.”
The diminutive 26-year-old has enjoyed a remarkable career in a Barca team widely considered one of the finest sides of all time.
Speaking at the event with the club’s partner charity Unicef, Messi advised members of Thailand’s Special Olympics “unified” football team - players with and without intellectual disabilities -- to lap up the experience when they travel to Brazil next year for the Global Unified Cup.
“The most important thing is to enjoy the experience,” said Messi, who will be hoping to fire Argentina to glory at the next year World Cup, also next year in Brazil.
“The chance to travel to a new place, meet new people... whether you win or lose is not the important part.”