KEY POINTS

  • Barcelona's Martin Braithwaite suffered a rare disorder during his childhood
  • Braithwaite dreamed of playing for Barca and has been doing his job well as part of the club
  • The Dutchman studied Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez's chemistry on the pitch

Unlike most professional football players, one Barcelona star doesn’t have great childhood memories about the sport.

In an exclusive interview with CNN Sport, Barcelona winger Martin Braithwaite revealed that roughly between the ages of five and seven, he suffered from a rare hip disorder called “Legg-Calvé-Perthes.”

The said abnormality had led to deformities in Braithwaite’s femur, forcing him to spend a couple of years in a wheelchair.

"I don't have a lot of [childhood] memories because it's such a sad moment," Braithwaite admitted. "You're looking at all the other kids running around, smiling, playing. It hurt. Obviously, it was a really tough period of my life."

"I remember the feeling of, how can you say, embarrassment...about being different,” he continued. “You didn't want this kind of attention."

Despite his condition, the young Braithwaite still pursued his dreams. The Danish was well aware that he had to go all-in as an opportunity may only come once.

"Always wanted to be a soccer player," the 29-year-old explained. "Since I was really young, I didn't have anything else in mind. I didn't have a plan B."

Twenty years after finally being taken out of his wheelchair, Braithwaite joined Barcelona as an “emergency signing” last year.

The former Leganes striker didn’t waste any time and immediately made his presence felt on the pitch, generally as Lionel Messi’s co-star in delivering goals.

After just a few games for Barca, Braithwaite already received rave reviews from his teammates and even Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman, according to Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo.

According to the report, Braithwaite is described as a man who "operates with a high standard of professionalism” and “ does exactly what’s asked of him.”

Teammates no more: Luis Suarez struck up a strong friendship with Lionel Messi at Barcelona, but the Urugayan's transfer to Atletico Madrid has been confirmed Teammates no more: Luis Suarez struck up a strong friendship with Lionel Messi at Barcelona, but the Urugayan has now moved to Atletico Madrid Photo: AFP / PAU BARRENA

Prior to his Barcelona debut, Braithwaite had the chance to speak with the then-Barca marksman Luis Suarez.

The versatile forward took the opportunity to take a few pointers from Suarez, particularly on how to play with Messi.

"I was so delighted to get to play with Luis [Suarez] before he left,” he revealed. “I studied their movement and tried to analyze the combination of running behind, playing the one-twos and everything.”

“Eventually I did ask Luis for guidance on how they developed that bond. [He told me] ‘Messi's a big team player,” Braithwaite continued. “Okay, he scores goals, but he also provides a lot of assists for his team. It's not difficult playing with a guy like that’."