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Leo Messi and Lamine Yamal: The Story of the Viral Photo

Since everything is a sign for those who believe, in the photo that is circulating on the web – there’s Leo Messi bathing a baby of a few months – he reads a prophecy in filigree. That of the champion who baptizes his heir because the baby smiling and wrapped in a towel – yes indeed – is Lamine Yamal, the star of Spain, the not yet seventeen-year-old (he turns seventeen on July 13) who is enchanting with his magic tricks at Euro 2024 and that tonight – in the first of the two semi-finals (live on TV with kick-off at 9pm on Sky Sport and Rai Uno) – will try to beat France and take his national team to the final act, the decisive one for the assignment of the trophy.

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The photo was posted by Yamal’s father and the story it brings is truly beautiful. So: just under seventeen years ago, UNICEF – which at the time was featured on the Barcelona shirts – came up with an advertising campaign, with an attached calendar to give to season ticket holders, as is often the case in these cases. The casting was done by looking for those families who in some way, in the previous months, had come into contact with the international organisation. Among them, the family of Yamal, whose full name – Lamine Yamal Nasraoui Ebana – echoes Arab origins. His father, Moroccan, and his mother, from Equatorial Guinea, were at the time part of that multitude of migrants who had gone to seek their fortune in Europe and had stopped in Barcelona. And there, in Catalonia, in the municipality of Esplugues de Llobregat, the future champion was born, who then grew up in the Rocafonda neighborhood, in the Matarò barrio, located in the metropolitan area of ​​Barcelona.

Yamal’s family, once recruited, participated with dozens and dozens of other families in the draw organized by UNICEF and was finally among the chosen ones. That’s how one day Yamal’s parents showed up at the Camp Nouthe location indicated for the photo shoots. To tell the truth, in the parents’ memories, there was satisfaction, but not enthusiasm, when the little one was entrusted – for the photos – to Leo Messi. La Pulce was twenty years old, he had arrived in Barcelona when he was thirteen. He had just finished his third championship with the Blaugrana, the first as a starter. He was a star in the making, a potential champion who more and more insiders were predicting would have a future as number one in the world, but – let it be said for the record – he was not yet the Messi that he would soon become, suddenly and forever. A year later in fact, with the arrival of Guardiola, Leo found his central role in Barcelona; two years later (2009) he won his first Ballon d’Or. In short, the stars of that late summer of 2007 were others: Ronaldinho and Eto’o, to name two.

And yet those photos with the rubber duckling, the towel, the champion’s caresses to the newborn – posted on Instagram by Yamal’s father and embellished with other rediscovered shots by the photographer who had worked on the service seventeen years ago – today they contain that poetry that alone knows how to extricate itself from everyday life, finding the happiest and most unexpected rebound, the one that links two destinies so distant, so incredibly close.


Source: Vanity Fair

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