Barcelona and U.S. men's national team fullback Sergino Dest admitted he was star-struck the first time he met Lionel Messi as the American defender also revealed he believes his club can go on to compete on several fronts this year.
The defender is a long-time admirer of Barca, and Messi in particular, as he now calls the Argentine his teammate
Speaking to CBS Sports, Dest admitted that he was a little starstruck the first time he met the Barcelona icon, but he also says he is beginning to feel comfortable playing alongside him.
"It's unbelievable. The first time I saw him, he was in the gym, I came in and looked to the right and I saw him. My face lit up like, 'Wow, that's Lionel Messi next to me'," he said.
"It's special. To play with him, to pass him the ball, to get the ball from him, it's really special to play with the best player in the world."
He added: "[Barca is]the biggest club in the world. It was my dream club. My dream came true.
"I felt like I had options to play here, for playing time with a Dutch coach. I know him because he wanted me with the Dutch national team.
"We talked and I had a good feeling with this club, especially because they created and are starting a new project with young players. This will be a perfect experience for me."
The young American has high hopes for his time at Barca, even if he's still learning how to communicate with his new teammate Messi.
Dest says he is currently taking Spanish classes and plans to learn Catalan as he continues to adjust to life with Barcelona.
And, despite a recent setback in El Clasico, Dest believes that Barca is a team that can compete for titles both now and in the future.
He also has similar hopes for the USMNT, as Dest believes that the next year can be a big one for both his club and his country.
"For the U.S., we have qualifiers in the summer. Qualifiers or Gold Cup, I'm not sure, but I want to win every single game with the U.S. and then qualify for the 2022 World Cup. I
"t's important for all of us and, for me, I want to play in a World Cup."
Dest is expected to be a part of the USMNT that gathers for November's friendly against Wales.
Before that, though, he'll continue to continue his acclimation with Barca as the Spanish giants face matches in La Liga and in the Champions League, but the defender says he's really excited to continue to grow alongside a young, talented USMNT squad.
"Everybody is really hungry for opportunities. Everybody wants to make the U.S. great," he said.
"For me, personally, I work really hard and I want to reach my full potential, not only for myself but also for the country. I want to achieve big things with the U.S., and I think we have a good generation coming up.
"Hopefully, everybody is doing the same and working hard. Hopefully, we can achieve something nice, hopefully. in 2022, but definitely in 2026."