Their dream was to meet Leo Messi and their dream has come true. Thirteen children aged between 7 and 18 years from eleven different countries got the chance to spend some time with their hero this morning at the Ciutat Esportiva. They are all suffering from serious illnesses and have come to Barcelona to meet the Argentinian star thanks to the support of the Leo Messi and FC Barcelona Foundations in association with Make-A-Wish Spain and the Ànima Foundation.
The thirty children that gathered on pitch number nine at the Barça training ground were from the United Kingdom, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, France, Holland, Ireland, Portugal, the USA, Peru and Catalonia. This visit will be a massive boost to their strength and joy, and in turn will be a huge help in their battles with illness. Experiences like these can often be as important as any medical treatment.
Messi was welcomed with open arms and after posing for photographs and signing autographs, and afterwards watched from the side-lines as the children played a match together. Then it was time for gifts. The guests presented Leo with a map of the world showing where they are all from and on which they had written their own personal messages. “I’m thrilled to have met the God of Football” said one, while another said that “I hope Thiago likes this gift.” Then Messi gave each of the children a pack of FC Barcelona merchandise that they all opened quickly and eagerly.
But that was not the end of the surprises. The biggest gift of all came at the end of the session when the children grouped around Messi for a special interview. They were able to ask him about his favourite dish, how he prepares mentally for games and all kinds of other things.
Some of the children will be heading straight back to their home countries, while those that are healthy enough to do so will be staying in Barcelona until the weekend to watch the Barça v Celta match on Saturday. On what’s sure to be another exciting day, they’ll get to pose for a photo with the first team and the stadium announcer, Manel Vich, will be giving them a very special mention over the PA system.