El Centrocampista

Messi mania continues as everyone tries to get a piece of the Argentine maestro

ONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images

ONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images

There are many benefits to being the greatest footballer on the planet, but for Lionel Messi there has been some unwanted attention in the form of obsessive pitch invaders all wanting to get close and personal with the Argentine star.

It may be approaching Valentine’s Day, but during Argentina’s 3-2 victory over Sweden in Gothenburg on Wednesday, the Ballon d’Or winner was once again kissed and hugged by a fan, who was wearing a replica of the striker’s famous number 10 Barcelona shirt.

The incident was the fourth time in eight months that the Argentine has been greeted with the sight of a ‘Messi Fanatic’ running towards him whilst on the field of play, having also happened in games against Germany, Mexico, and Atletico Madrid.

And while he has always greeted them in his typically shy but friendly demeanour – in one case even signing an autograph for a child who invaded in a game against Mexico – for an introvert like Messi, it must all come as distraction that he could do without.

Being smothered in kisses and affection is certainly better than having a Pig’s head thrown at you, as Luis Figo will testify, but Messi doesn’t believe in his hype nor want the media attention that he so rightly deserves.

Fortunately to date all of Messi’s admirers have been friendly and entirely innocent in their nature, but such is the emotional nature of sport that you sadly do not have to look far to find all too recent examples of what happens when fans run onto the pitch with a more sinister intent.

Last week Wycombe Wanderers goalkeeper Jordan Archer was attacked whilst in the midst of taking a goal kick by a seventeen year old Gillingham fan, while Chris Kirkland has already suffered similar abuse this season.

However to be fair to the Spaniards, since the sorry scenes in November 2011, which caused Granada’s game with Mallorca to be abandoned in 63rd minute after a linesman was struck by an umbrella that was launched from the crowd, there have actually been very few incidents involving crowd unrest.

In fact at the Nou Camp where Lionel Messi delightfully plies his trade, Barcelona FC actually took down the crowd control netting behind the goals last year citing the ‘civil and model behavior’ of their fans as the key reason behind their removal.

That said, it is probably only a case of when and not if, Lionel Messi gets greeted by another adoring fan puckering his lips for a chance to kiss the superstar.

Without being sensationalist, let’s just hope they are all as innocent as the previous incidents.




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