Lionel Messi isn’t just one of the greatest sportspeople to have ever lived, he’s also one of the most recognisable human beings on the planet.
You can’t just have 257 million followers on Instagram and simply be known within the footballing community, no, Messi is a global celebrity who’d be recognised in the street by people who had never watched a game of his in their life.
As such, it’s fair to say that there have been some rather remarkable reactions from people who have gotten the chance to meet the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner before.
Whether that’s players swarming over him to get his shirts after games or hundreds of members of the public baying for a photograph when he’s on his holidays, Messi must hardly get a moment to breathe sometimes.
But of all the interactions that he must go through every day he leaves the house, by far the most heartwarming of them must be the ones with children.
Besides, even to a cold-hearted adult, the sight of a young boy or girl having their dreams come true by meeting a sporting hero like Messi never fails to melt the heart.
And let’s face it, if we were all seven years old once again, then we’d be just as giddy at the thought of meeting arguably the greatest footballer to have ever pulled up a pair of shin pads.
However, even the most excitable amongst us would probably struggle to compete with the truly uplifting reaction of a group of Champions League mascots ahead of Maccabi Haifa vs Paris Saint-Germain this week.
As the PSG players finished lining up at the Sammy Ofer Stadium for all the pre-match festivities, a few of the children walking out with their heroes just couldn’t miss the opportunity to spend time with Messi.
In truly precious footage, the kids can be seen visibly starstruck at the sight of the Argentine icon and gradually break their formation one by one in order to give him a hug.
By the time that he’s about to stand up straight next to Marco Verratti, the 35-year-old practically had half of the game’s mascots hanging onto him.
As you’d expect, Messi was a typically good sport about the whole thing and was sure to give the mascots a friendly hug in return, so go on, lighten up your day by watching the heartwarming clip of it all unfolding down below:
Let’s face it, that’s what the beautiful game is all about.
Yes, you, me and millions of others yap on about ultimately trivial stuff like tactics and transfers, but the real value of the sport is the joy and happiness that it brings, especially to youngsters.
No doubt there’d be someone stuffy out there rolling their eyes at the mascots going off and doing their own thing, but kudos to them for securing a memory that will stay with them forever in a perfectly respectful way.
And Messi, too, will no doubt be acutely aware that what might seem like fleeting and innocuous interactions to him will mean the world to those he has them with.
Judging by the reactions of those Champions League mascots, that’s probably exactly how they’re feeling about it right now and that, ladies and gentlemen, is priceless.
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