LIONEL MESSI revealed he "wanted to leave Spain" after his tax fraud hell – and that he feared playing against English defences.
The Barcelona captain has opened up on his future in Barcelona, family and some of his favourite moments of a stunning career.
5 Lionel Messi told RAC1 in Spain he thought about leaving Barcelona during a difficult spell in 2013/14Credit: EPA
5 Messi was investigated over claims of tax fraud but is now expecting to stay at the Nou CampCredit: AP:Associated Press
But the Argentine legend, 32, admitted his time at the Nou Camp could have ended in the 2013/14 season as investigations into his tax affairs as well as injury made life tough.
He told Spanish radio station RAC1: "There was a time that one ends up tired and exhausted by a series of circumstances. I had several times, especially the 2013-2014 era, before the problem with the Treasury and everything.
"It was very difficult for me and my family because people don't know much about what's going on.
"At that time, with the mess of the Treasury, I had the mind to leave, not for wanting to leave Barca but for wanting to leave Spain.
"I felt that I was being very mistreated and I didn't want to stay here. I never had an official offer because everyone knew my idea to stay here."
For now, though, Messi and his family are content with staying in Barcelona – meaning he may not fulfil his dream of returning to Argentina and Newell's Old Boys.
He added: "Today my idea and that of my family is to end here. Especially first because of how I am in the club, how I feel in the club. Then because of the family, for how good we are in this city, for my children, for not changing my friendships and I don't want it broken because I had to live it on my personal level.
"You never know but our idea is this, stay in Barcelona.
"It's something I always dreamed of, playing in Newell's, but sometimes you have to think about the family that is the most important thing."
Messi and wife Antonella Roccuzzo have three sons – Thiago, Mateo and Ciro – but they do not call their old man by 'Dad' or 'Papa' like most young kids.
The five-time Ballon d'Or winner explained: "It is very exaggerated to be told I am God, I do not like it. Especially for my children, because of their age, they listen and copy. My children call me 'Leo Messi' or 'Vamos Leo Messi'.
"Thiago has a group of friends from school. They are nine or ten who met as little boys.
"Now they are just finding out who Thiago's father is but I am very calm because Thiago's friends are because they feel it.
"I play video games more. Now that Thiago starts playing he calls me to play with him."
Back on the football field, Messi revealed some of his greatest and toughest moments as a player.
His favourite time came in the Pep Guardiola era at the Nou Camp, who he also names as his best manager – along with Luis Enrique – but he also expressed his regret at seeing Cristiano Ronaldo leave La Liga.
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Out of all the defences he has come up against, the toughest of all have been from English teams.
The forward still has 26 strikes in 34 appearances against Premier League sides and scored what he deems his best goal against Manchester United, the header in the 2009 Champions League final.
He said: "We had tough teams, especially at that time English teams were very physical and strong, in recent years that football is more defensive and more tactical.
"The best team I faced was the Spanish team before the 2010 World Cup, it was one of the matches that surprised me.
"I would have liked Cristiano to continue in Madrid, he gave a plus to the rivalry and El Clasico."
5 The Argentine hero confessed his kids call him 'Leo Messi' and their friends are beginning to realise who he isCredit: EPA
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And finally, Messi confirmed he is a fan of VAR, which has divided opinion since its introduction over recent years, but recognises it needs improving.
But one of the game's greatest players said: "I like the VAR and I am in favour but it is leaving many doubts.
"It is still not being well used. There are many doubts. VAR is there so there are no doubts and this is not happening."
5 Messi finds the defences of English teams the hardest to deal with – as was proven by the Liverpool comeback in the Champions League last seasonCredit: PA:Empics Sport
5 He revealed his favourite goal came in the 2009 Champions League final when he headed past Edwin van der SarCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd