When SPORT began to think what would be the best way to pay homage to Lionel Messi's 300 goals at Camp Nou, our colleague Tomas Andreu came up with the idea of putting 300 balls in the goal. It seemed impossible because there were few days to execute it: it was time to get to work.
After various calls, Futbol Emotion, in the Barcelona barrio of Born, promised us they could get the 300 balls from their warehouse in Zaragoza.
The first thing was to think about the transport from the city in Aragon, although that passed without too many problems. There were 17 boxes of Adidas Tango balls... deflated. Next it was time to blow them up.
That's when two yongsters from La Garriga entered the scene, Edu Melchor and Adria Rius, friends of Valenti Enrich, one of the photographers at SPORT who was in charge of preparing the logistics for the report with Messi. Without Edu and Adria, the photograph with the 300 balls would have been almost impossible.
FOUR AND HALF HOURS
They took charge of collecting the balls from SPORT, taking them to their warehouse in La Garriga and dedicating an entire afternoon to inflating them. It took them four and a half hours. They were also in charge of delivering the balls to the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper.
The meeting with Messi was around 10.15 in the morning, given training was due to start at 11. Valenti Enrich, Joan Monfort and Marc Casanvoas, SPORT's photographers, had calculated they would lead at least a couple of hours to prepare all the material: to set up the 300 balls, to move in four metre step ladder to take photographs from and to perform a number of tests to make sure nothing went wrong.
TWO HOURS PREPARATION
Shortly after 8 in the morning, Edu and Adria's van arrived at Barça's training ground after coming through security. Barça had given us Campo 9 and the van appeared there and began to unload the balls, the step ladder and all the material necessary for the report.
By 9.15, the photographers had organised all the material and began the tests with the cameras, checking the light and running through everything. They themselves took in terms to take on Messi's role as they waited for the 'crack' to arrive.
Messi appeared at 10.08, smiling and relzed. He was delighted to pose and surprised to see so many balls together -- "where did you get all these from!?," he asked. He signed a few autographs and returned to the dressing room to get ready for training.
It had been several days of work for a brief photograph session (four and a half minutes, exactly), but intense. It's not everyday you have the chance to have a photograph session with the best player in the world.
At the end of the session, Valenti Enrich's camera had 258 photographs saved.