Chinese language superfan books into Messi lodge for glimpse of hero


Lionel Messi China

Members of the Argentina soccer staff together with ahead Lionel Messi (L) go away the lodge the place they’re staying in for a coaching session in Beijing on June 12, 2023. Argentina will play a pleasant soccer match in opposition to Australia on June 15 at Beijing’s newly-renovated 68,000-capacity Staff’ Stadium. (Photograph by Pedro PARDO / AFP)

It took hours of ready, an expensive lodge room and an exhausting chase by means of Beijing, but it surely was all price it for a Chinese language fan of Lionel Messi who finally bought a blurry selfie together with his hero.

Argentine legend Messi is within the Chinese language capital for a pleasant in opposition to Australia on Thursday and has been greeted by crowds of frenzied soccer followers longing for a glimpse.

Amongst them is Liu Yuhang, a 26-year-old pc programmer from the northeastern province of Liaoning who fell in love with the World Cup-winner a decade in the past.

“He’s not simply an athlete, he’s an artist,” Liu instructed AFP on Monday. “He’s given me extra that means in life and turn into a form of perception for me.”

He mentioned he felt “actually excited” when he heard Messi was making a uncommon go to to China — however knew he confronted an uphill battle to see his idol within the flesh.

Liu first joined the throngs of followers ready outdoors the Argentina squad’s lodge, however was unable to sneak a correct have a look at Messi on his approach inside.

Undeterred, Liu spent over 2,000 yuan ($280) on a luxurious room inside, however was once more foiled by the tight safety presence.

His probability lastly got here on Sunday when he noticed the staff coach pulling out of the lodge on the way in which to a coaching session.

A frantic bicycle chase by means of the sweltering capital culminated with a panting Liu drawing alongside the automobile at a pink mild.

Lionel Messi selfie

This handout image courtesy of Liu Yuhang taken on June 11, 2023 and launched to AFP on June 12 reveals Liu Yuhang posing for a selfie as Argentine soccer participant Lionel Messi (background C) is seen using a staff bus enroute to a coaching session, in Beijing. It took hours of ready, an expensive lodge reserving and an exhausting chase by means of the streets of Beijing, but it surely was all price it for soccer superfan Liu Yuhang who lastly bought to glimpse his hero Lionel Messi up shut. (Photograph by Handout / COURTESY OF LIU YUHANG / AFP)

His reward: a quick wave from a bemused-looking Messi within the again seat and a distant selfie with the person himself simply seen within the background.

“At that second I felt actually pleased,” Liu mentioned. “I spent fairly some huge cash for this, but when I hadn’t… I might need at all times regretted it.”

Messi arrived in Beijing on Saturday and can lead Argentina in opposition to Australia on the capital’s newly renovated 68,000-capacity Staff’ Stadium.

The tie is a rematch of the last-16 conflict eventually yr’s World Cup, which Argentina gained 2-1 on their solution to lifting the trophy.

Tickets for the pleasant sport — starting from 580 to 4,800 yuan — had been snapped up rapidly, with Liu amongst these lacking out.

“I attempted to purchase one, however couldn’t,” he mentioned, including that he deliberate to stream the match on-line with pals.

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