Photos of Lionel Messi with 16-year-old soccer star Lamine Yamal when he was just a baby have been discovered

Photos Lionel Messi with 16-year-old soccer star Lamine Yamal as an infant, returned to the pitch after achieving international success this week.

On Tuesday evening Messi, who led Argentina to the World Cup title in 2022, he led his country to the Copa America final after beating Canada 2-0 in a match in which he scored his first goal of the tournament. Just hours earlier, Spanish teenager Yamal became the youngest player ever to score a goal in a European Championship, scoring in a 2-0 win over France. He turns 17 on Saturday — the day before the final.

The players have been linked before, as Yamal currently plays for FC Barcelona while Messi has been with the organisation for almost two decades. However, touching photos of them playing together over 16 years ago resurfaced when Yamal’s father shared one of the photos on his Instagram account last week. He captioned the image, “the beginning of two greats.”

In this photo taken in September 2007, Lionel Messi can be seen helping Lamine Yamal bathe with Yamal’s mother, Sheila Ebana.

Photo AP/Joan Monfort

Joan Monfort, a freelance photographer for The Associated Press, took the original photos. He told the AP the photoshoot took place in the visiting dressing room at Camp Nou in 2007, when Yamal was a few months old.

Messi, then 20 and playing for Barcelona, ​​held Yamal in one of the photos. Another photo showed Messi bathing a young Yamal in a plastic tub. There was also a photo of Yamal’s mother, Sheila Ebana, with Messi as they bathed the child.

In this photo taken in September 2007, a 20-year-old Lionel Messi can be seen holding Lamine Yamal in his arms.

Photo AP/Joan Monfort

Barcelona players posed with children and their families for a calendar as part of the annual charity event for Spanish newspaper Diario Sport and UNICEF. Monfort was in charge of the photo shoots, while Messi was paired with Yamal’s family.

“We made the calendar with the help of UNICEF,” Monfort said. “So UNICEF organized a draw in the Roca Fonda neighborhood of Mataró, where the Lamine family lived. They signed up for the draw to have their picture taken at the Camp Nou with Barca player. And they won the toss.”

Monfort also admitted that the session was not easy because Messi was unsure how to behave around Lamine.

“Messi is quite an introverted guy, he’s shy,” he said. “He’d come out of the locker room and suddenly he’d be in another locker room with a plastic tub full of water and a baby in it. It was complicated. At first he didn’t even know how to hold him.”

The photographer had no idea Yamal was in the photos until his friend told him they had gone viral. The excitement of the photos is something he has never experienced, he said, despite a long career as a sports photographer.

“It’s very exciting to be associated with something that has caused such a sensation,” he said. “It’s a very nice feeling, actually.”