Lionel Messi Was Photographed ‘Blessing’ 16-Year-Old Spanish Soccer Star as a Baby

A man and woman smile as they bathe a happy baby in a blue plastic tub filled with bubbles against a red background. The baby, enjoying the bath, is surrounded by frothy bubbles. The man wears a white hoodie, and the woman has braided hair and wears a sleeveless top.

An amazing photo of Lionel Messi “blessing” a future soccer star who will star in Spain’s semi-final against France today at the Euros 2024 soccer tournament has gone viral.

Lamine Yamal is just 16 years old, the youngest ever to play for Spain and the youngest ever player to appear at the European Championships. But in a bizarre coincidence, he once posed with soccer legend Lionel Messi when he was just six months old alongside his mom.

The Associated Press reports that the photo came about in 2007 when FC Barcelona players made a charity calendar for local newspaper Diario Sport and Unicef. There was a raffle to find children and families who would pose with the players and Yamal’s family happened to win.

Back then, Messi was 20 years old and while he was a very exciting talent, he was not yet the outstanding player of his generation or GOAT as he is known today.

“Messi is a pretty introverted guy, he’s shy,” photographer Joan Monfort says of the awkward photo shoot in which he says Messi was unsure of how to interact with baby Yamal.

“He was coming out of the locker room and suddenly he finds himself in another locker room with a plastic tub full of water and a baby in it. It was complicated. He didn’t even know how to hold him at first.”

A person with long, dark hair, wearing a white hoodie, is holding a baby wrapped in a beige towel with a red edge. The person is looking affectionately at the baby, who is gazing back. The background is a solid red color.

Fans joked that Yamal’s early encounter with Messi was a “blessing” and it is the reason why Lamal is so successful at such a young age.

“Greatness touched a baby, and the baby is on his way to greatness as well,” remarked one person.


The photos were shot, presumably published, and forgotten about until Yamal’s father shared the photo with the caption, “The beginning of two legends.”

Just like Messi, Yamal trained at Barcelona’s famous La Masia youth academy. The similarities don’t end there: While Yamal will play in the semi-final of a major soccer tournament today so will Messi who is likely to play against Canada in the semi-final of the Copa America for Argentina this evening.

Yamal has impressed at Euros 2024 so far, notching up the most assists of any player in the tournament. If he scores a goal he will become the youngest player ever to do so.

The photographer, Monfort, says he is really surprised the photo has gone viral but is pleased his family was able to keep a copy that he gave them.

“It’s very exciting to be associated with something that has caused such a sensation,” the photographer says. “To tell you the truth it’s a very nice feeling.”

Update 7/10 Yamal scored in the semi-final against France last night, becoming the youngest person ever to score at the Euros. Messi also scored in his semi-final against Canada. Both Argentina and Spain qualified for their respective finals.

Image credits: Joan Monfort/Associated Press.