What does Rey Mysterio of WWE fame and The Stig from Top Gear have in common?
They’re both masked identities, with their real selves hidden from the world for one reason or the other, be it to create mysticism, to switch the face behind the mask easily, to protect the real identity, or anything else.
Masked identities create an aura about themselves and generate intrigue among the viewers, who are left to their vices to imagine what the person would look like.
And this weekend another masked identity joined the revered list, this time in the world of football.
Playing in the Kings League, a player turned up in one of the matches wearing a mask and covering his tattoos, and called himself ‘Enigma69’.
But before we go any further, let us tell you a bit more about Kings League.
It is a seven-a-side football tournament started by recently-retired Spain and Barcelona defender Gerard Pique. The league involves 12 teams that play indoors and is broadcasted worldwide on the streaming site Twitch for free.
The league boasts of high-profile team presidents like Sergio Aguero and Iker Casillas.
One of the ways the league has gained popularity is due to a rule called the ‘player 12’ rule, wherein every side can call a guest player in every game to play for them. Former Spain international Joan Capdevila and former Man Utd striker Javier Hernandez have featured for sides by virtue of this rule.
The same rule allowed ‘Enigma 69’ to play for a club called XBuyer Team.
It was announced by Pique before the matches got underway that the player “doesn’t want to reveal his identity”.
He added that the mystery personality is “a first-division player and he’s going to wear a [Mexican] wrestling mask and cover his body so his tattoos won’t be recognised.”
With so much charm surrounding the player, you’d have thought that he would at least play good football.
Alas, that wasn’t the case. The unknown player had a forgettable game, losing 1-0 to Kunisports. The player’s performance was reported to be a ‘fiasco’ and he was out of shape and even wore the wrong footwear, causing him to slip multiple times.
Many attempts were made to get to know the player’s identity and why it was hidden. A streamer, Gerrard Romero, even called former Barca midfielder Denis Suarez while streaming, to confirm if he was the one, although Denis denied it, clearing the air.
Social media was abuzz with doubts, asking about his height, his movement, and any other clues they can gather to hunt him down.
And, it seems, they got the all-important hint they wanted to track him down.
A neck tattoo spotted while playing revealed the player to be Nano Mesa.
Add to that the fact that Aguero also let his name slip while streaming and the matter was beyond doubt.
Who is Nano Mesa?
Mesa is a 27-year-old forward who has spent his entire professional career in the top three tiers of Spanish football.
His most recent employment was with the La Liga club Cadiz, who let him go as a free agent after the previous season, which he spent on loan at Real Zaragoza.
Pique’s “first-division player” only has 16 appearances in that league to his name, with 15 of them coming between 2016 and 2018.
He has 35 goals in 215 appearances throughout his career, along with 9 assists.
All in all, the praise and hype Pique and the social media generated look highly generous and even misleading.
Why did they do this?
Simple answer: It was a marketing stunt.
Mesa has been without a club since the summer and this can act as a catalyst to put him back on the radar.
And for Kings League, a lot of free hype and marketing and we’re certain this was a game with one of the highest viewership this league has seen.
The gimmick attracted over 5,00,000 views on average, with a peak of around 9,00,000.
While the identity has not been revealed officially, I think we can safely assume it to be Nano and swiftly move on with our lives.