When you’re as famous as Lionel Messi, you’re used to being recognized, photographed, and even followed around as you do normal things like walking your kids to school or going to dinner with your family.
But the reality of what Messi has become for Argentinians who waited over three decades – since 1986 – for another World Cup trophy, is hard to put into words. But the videos of Messi being swarmed Monday night (March 20), by what feels like half of the country in Buenos Aires, give a clear idea of what it’s like to be Lionel Messi right now.
Messi is currently in Argentina with his family to play two friendlies, the first games on Argentinian soil after the team’s World Cup win. It’s a chance for a country to celebrate the players who brought the World Cup back to Argentina. But with the two games being sold out, that has left a lot of people scrambling to get a glimpse of Messi wherever they can – even as he’s trying to have dinner.
The videos are especially striking because Messi, even while safely being escorted by police, looks pretty happy to be home, smiling at the people surrounding him.
The crowd, though large and absolutely intimidating, seems to be all about getting a glimpse of their idol – not causing any real trouble. Everyone’s got their phones out and a lot of them seem content to just be near Messi while chanting his name.
This is Lionel Messi in 2023. He’s won everything he could win at the club level. He’s won a Copa America and a World Cup with Argentina. He is, by far, the most famous and revered person in the country. And he’s seemingly happy to feel the love of a country that didn’t always appreciate him the way it should, even in the midst of an overwhelming amount of fans.
Argentina is set to play friendlies against Panama on March 23rd and Curacao on March 28th.