An Argentinian man who was kidnapped last week in Nigeria has claimed that saying the name of top footballer ‘Lionel Messi’ saved him from being killed.
Agricultural engineer Santiago Lopez Menendez (28) was working in an area called Kontogora in the north-west of the African country when he was kidnapped by a gang of men.
His abductors did not speak English and beat him seriously, the Nigerian Daily Post reports.
Menendez was convinced the kidnappers believed he was American and attempted to tell them he was, in fact, South American.
The engineer resorted to crying ‘Messi, Messi, Messi’ and claimed he calmed the abductors with the star footballer’s name.
The gang stopped beating him and Menendez was released three days later after his company paid an undisclosed ransom to the gang.
Santiago’s brother Jorge spoke to an Argentinian newspaper and said: “’Tell them I am grateful to Messi’, he told me. ‘Naming him is what saved me’.”
Menendez is due to return to Argentina in the coming days.