Madrid - Four-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi has spoken of his admiration for retiring NBA legend Kobe Bryant after a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Bryant announced his decision to retire at the end of the season earlier this week having won five NBA titles and two Olympic gold medals in a hugely successful career.
"It's always sad to hear when a sportsman is retiring. But Kobe Bryant will always be in the history books as one of the greatest," Messi wrote on his official Facebook page.
"It was he who helped me become interested in basketball. All the best in the next stage of your life, Kobe."
Messi and Bryant starred together in a commercial for Turkish Airlines in 2013 that was named "Ad of the Decade" by YouTube earlier this year.