From Mascots to Pitch Invaders: How Lionel Messi Superfans Stole The Show in Israel


Children walking on the pitch, hand-in-hand with players, is a common sight in football nowadays.

This started back in the early 2000s when FIFA and UNICEF collaborated to raise global awareness about children’s rights and issues.

Child mascots have become synonymous with football, especially in high-profile tournaments.

Often, these mascots provide hilarious and very-relatable moments for all of us watching on TV.

After all, it’s not every day that you get to be on a football pitch with the greatest footballers on Earth.

When it comes to well-known instances of mascots going crazy about football players, Ronaldo interacting with two kids instantly comes to mind.

The pair in front of Ronaldo lined up for the national anthems prior to kickoff, and couldn’t believe their good fortune as the cameras captured them looking up at the Portuguese.

Ronaldo grinned back at them after noticing their smiles. The two children exchanged looks of complete surprise and unbridled excitement as they received the kind and simple gesture, which meant the world to them.

This wholesome moment happened during the 2018 World Cup game between Spain and Portugal which ended 3-3, where the Portuguese scored a wonderful hattrick.

Another memorable occasion occurred back in 2015 when Wayne Rooney stood close to a young Swansea mascot before a premier league game. 

Cameras captured the nine-year-old mascot’s enthusiastic gaze as he stood close to the Manchester United captain and was awestruck.

With his jaw dropped, he examined Rooney from head to toe in order to properly comprehend what he was seeing: the finest striker England has ever produced.

Lionel Messi, too, has been subject to some mascot craziness over years gone by.

Fortunately for Leo, his encounter with the mascots prior to the UCL game against Maccaiba Haifa was much more mellow and heart-warming. 

In the Champions League Group H encounter on Wednesday night at the Sammy Ofer Stadium, French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain visited Israeli champions Maccabi Haifa. 

The child mascots were in awe of the players they were seeing when appearing on the pitch prior to kick-off.

One cute moment was even captured on camera and has since gone viral.

The kids can be seen hugging and blowing kisses toward Messi, and some were too awestruck to react.

The Argentine hugged them back in gratitude for the love showered on him. 

One can only imagine the emotions that these blessed kids must have felt when seeing the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner so up and close.

And not everyone in the stadium could keep their excitement on seeing Messi all to themselves.

One fan evaded the pitch-side security and invaded the pitch, making a dash towards Leo, hugging and bowing down to one of the all-time greats.

The security did eventually catch and escort him out.

The PSG star did not just create headlines pre-match, but even during, as he helped his team by scoring and assisting a goal, ultimately leading to a 3-1 victory over Maccabi Haifa.