Tuesday 24 January 2017

Messi is the main event - but 'Bhoys' turn up in their droves, as always

Ryan Nugent

Published 01/08/2016 | 02:30

Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona lead out the FC Barcelona team during the International Champions Cup match between Glasgow Celtic and Barcelona at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona lead out the FC Barcelona team during the International Champions Cup match between Glasgow Celtic and Barcelona at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

The 'Bhoys' were back in town - and yet, a blonde-haired maverick proved to be the main event in front of an almost packed-out Aviva Stadium.

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Up until last week, we had all but given up hope that the greatest player to ever kick a football would turn up in Dublin.

A young fan takes a selfie. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
A young fan takes a selfie. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

He was, after all, enjoying an extended summer break.

But lo and behold, arriving at Dublin's Marker Hotel on Friday night, his biting sidekick Luis Suarez in tow, was Lionel Messi himself.

Thousands of supporters stood outside the team hotel for hours on end, waiting to get an elusive signature or, even better, a selfie.

Some of them were lucky enough, with the stars posing for photos - and even the staff got in on the act.

Others were back again post-match on Saturday night, refusing to believe the doorman who informed them that Barcelona were flying home that night.

And let's not forget the Celtic supporters too, who always travel in their droves, no matter that their team were beaten 3-1.

Anto Brennan and Alan Sherry, from Cabra, have followed Celtic around the world, while Lucas Sargeant (6) only had eyes for Barcelona. But it wasn't Messi on his mind, it was the absent Neymar.

"We've been everywhere - Amsterdam, Barcelona a couple of times, supporting Celtic," Alan said.

Messi, with his new blond hairdo. Picture by Fergal Phillips
Messi, with his new blond hairdo. Picture by Fergal Phillips

Meanwhile, Larry Hickey (6), from Clondalkin, got a bit of a shock on Saturday morning when he found a couple of hidden tickets.

"He didn't know until this morning - he's never seen Barca before," his father, Ger, said.

Luis Suarez and Brendan Rodgers. Photo by Dave Maher/Sportsfile
Luis Suarez and Brendan Rodgers. Photo by Dave Maher/Sportsfile
Leigh Griffiths celebrates his goal. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Leigh Griffiths celebrates his goal. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Celtic fans Phil Currans, Peter Gillan, Deco Martin and Calum Martin (9) from Lusk. Pic: Mark Condren
Celtic fans Phil Currans, Peter Gillan, Deco Martin and Calum Martin (9) from Lusk. Pic: Mark Condren

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