From posing for a selfie, enjoying the seaside meals and taking his children to castles, Lionel Messi’s down-to-earth existence has won the admiration of many locals in his long-time hometown of Barcelona.
Messi said goodbye to Barcelona with tears on Sunday, preparing to find a new life away from the suburb of Castelldefels where he lived a peaceful, homely existence.
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The multi-millionaire Argentine, with the club for 21 years, has often been spotted eating with his wife Antonella Roccuzzo at seaside bars or taking their three children to mixed castles. He would be photographed with locals.
When Messi suffered an injury five years ago that stopped him from playing for weeks, local Andy Tomlinson said he jokingly offered Messi another job and the superstar played together.
“When Messi had a sore leg, I said he should be worried he could not do his job, but I said I had a job that only required assembling materials with his hands,” said Tomlinson, 47, a Briton who running business tools to measure light intensity.
He smiled and said “maybe another time”.
‘MESEI MOU KOUBE’
Maxim Papais, 11, said he would often see Messi on his way home from school and the couple would rejoice in each other.
“I will always remember Messi as this famous footballer who was happy for me,” he said.
The player was often seen running to school, going out to buy bread or enjoying local Argentine restaurants.