Lionel Messi paid an emotional tribute to Diego Maradona by revealing a Newell’s Old Boys shirt after scoring for Barcelona against Osasuna.
Barca were back to somewhere near their best in the 4-0 win over Osasuna, and Messi found his way onto the scoresheet after 73 minutes. He was found on the edge of the box by Francisco Trincao and made space for himself before firing home.
Upon finding the target, his first in open play this term, Messi took off his Barcelona shirt to reveal a Newell’s Old Boys jersey, with the No.10 on the back in tribute to Maradona.
Messi pointed to the sky while displaying the Newell’s kit, in a show of emotion for his fellow Argentinian.
In accordance with the rules, Messi was subsequently shown a yellow card for taking off his Barca shirt.
Antoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho each also got a goal in Barca’s comfortable victory, along with striker Martin Braithwaite, who opened the scoring in the first half.
They described afterward how they were not aware of what Messi was planning on a moving day at Camp Nou, where Maradona played from 1982-84.
“We lost Maradona, a global idol, we all miss him,” Coutinho said.
“We didn’t know what Messi had prepared to honor Maradona,” added Griezmann. “It was a beautiful surprise.”
Newell’s responded through their English Twitter account, saying: “It’s all about number 10. The best player in the world and his tribute to #D10S.”
Messi spent a spell in his youth at Newell’s, a club Maradona represented for one year toward the end of his career.
The pair shared the pitch together in 2005, in an exhibition match featuring some greats of Argentina football. Neither was anywhere near their peak, with Messi 18 and Maradona 45, but they had great respect for each other’s talents.
Maradona coached Messi for a spell at international level, when he was in charge of the Argentina team from 2008-10.
Along with Pele, Maradona and Messi are in the conversation over the greatest footballer of all time, although the latter once dismissed any comparison between himself and the two.
“Even if I played for a million years, I’d never come close to Maradona,” Messi said. “Not that I’d want to anyway. He’s the greatest there’s ever been.”
Messi will look to carry the momentum from Sunday’s win into a busy period of the season. Barca remain some way off the pace in La Liga, but they can make ground with positive results in games against Cadiz, Levante, Real Sociedad, Valencia, Valladolid and Eibar before the turn of the year.