It would be presumptuous to say that Lionel Messi would have had more than his fair share of requests, ranging from the usual to the incredulous, from his fans over the course of his glittering 20-year career.
From having had to deal with all the usual suspects in the stands clamoring for his match-worn jerseys, posing for selfies with obsessed invaders of the pitch, and even having to hand-scrawl his signature on one gentleman’s sprawling back tattoo of the six-time Ballon d’Or winner’s image, the Paris Saint-Germain forward has literally done it all – and then some. But it’s certainly a rarity when Messi is asked to bequeath forgiveness for someone.
And that’s precisely what happened this week when an 11-year-old fan turned up at Argentina’s training base in Ezeiza on Tuesday clutching a hand-made sign. In an image posted on social media by TyC Sports journalist Gaston Edul, the young lad was actually pleading for forgiveness from Messi on behalf of his mother as she had in earlier years decided to name him after another football personality instead.
Written in Spanish, the sign read: “Messi, forgive my mama, she didn’t know what she was doing, SHE CALLED ME CRISTIANO.”
According to TyC sports, the young Cristiano is a youth player in the academy at Racing Club but is himself a supporter of rival Buenos Aires side, River Plate. His mother had decided to name her son after Cristiano Ronaldo when he was born. Clearly, the boy must have grown up favoring Messi instead, whom he travelled with his father to meet at the national team’s training ground.
Unfortunately, Messi was unable to greet his admirer in person due to the strict COVID-19 guidelines in place at Ezeiza, where Argentina are preparing for Thursday’s 2022 World Cup qualifier against Peru.
However, the Argentine talisman and skipper said after Sunday’s 3-0 home win over Uruguay that he hopes the “the communion between fans and the team will last for a long time.”
Messi, who captained Argentina to win the Copa America in July, penned a text on Instagram to his fans ahead of Thursday’s World Cup qualifier against Peru at the Monumental stadium:
“How beautiful it is to enjoy these moments that we are experiencing! Great triumph!!! Thanks again for making me feel this way. May it continue. See you on Thursday.”