By FOX Sports Staff
Messi was promoted to the Barcelona first-team in 2004 as a 17-year-old and he revealed that Ronaldinho's welcoming presence was a key factor in helping him ease into life in the top flight.
He told Barca TV: I've always said, since the first moment I walked in the locker room, Ronaldinho and other Brazilians, Deco, Sylvinho and [Thiago] Motta welcomed me and provided me things, but mostly he (Ronaldinho), and I learned a lot at his side."
"It was a big help. It's never easy to go into a locker room as a teenager and Ronaldinho made everything easier. I was fortunate to live near him and share many things with him. I can say that he is a great person and that's the most important thing."
Messi also hailed Ronaldinho's role in sparking off Barcelona's successful era in the 2000s after a barren spell in the 1990s.
He continued: "Ronaldinho was responsible for changing the club. The club was going through a bad spell but it changed with his arrival.
"During the first year we did not win anything but people loved him. Later came the titles and he made all those people happy. I believe that Barca should be forever grateful for everything he did."