When Brazilian football fan Igor Magalhaes decided to have a huge image of Lionel Messi tattooed all over his back in 2019, he never could have dreamed that one day the artwork would receive the seal of approval from the man himself.
Taking three full sessions, the expansive tattoo features Messi celebrating his late winning goal (also his 500th in his career) in a 3-2 win over Real Madrid in 2017 – the Barcelona star holding his No 10 shirt in the air to a silenced the Bernabeu crowd.
The huge tribute to Messi was announced by Argentinian media this weekend after Magalhaes was spotted watching the Argentina national team train in Brasilia ahead of their 2021 Copa America group match against Paraguay in the Brazilian capital.
It was soon featured on the TyC Sports broadcasters Instagram account, where it was seen by over a million people in a matter of days.
Surprisingly, that audience included Messi himself, who left a rare comment on the social media post.
“Terrible tattoo!” the Barca striker joked, before adding “I love him! I would love to see him and sign him.”
It is at this point that the story takes an even more incredible turn as a meeting between Messi and Magalhaes was due to take place outside the Argentina team’s hotel in Brasilia this weekend.
Accompanied by the team’s security chief and brandishing a marker, Messi approached the small group of fans, walked through the guardrail and added his signature to the body art, as he had promised.
COMES THE FIRMA MS ESPERADA!
– TyC Sports (@TyCSports) June 21, 2021
Although the meeting was brief, Magalhaes – who works as a military firefighter in his home country – will likely not soon forget his contact with Messi.
According to TyC Sports, the Brazilian was able to add Messi’s autograph to his back with another tattoo hours later.
“Now I can die in peace,” he wrote on Instagram after sharing a photo of the amazing moment.
The post received hundreds of comments from envious football fans around the world, most of whom agreed with the consensus that Magalhaes is one of the luckiest people in the world.
“I thought Messi was not going to stop,” the Brazilian told journalist Matias Pelliccioni. “I saw him, he looked at me and turned his back on me. I am happy forever, there are no more words to describe this. I want to say thank you very much to all the Argentine people.”
Oddly enough, this is not the first time Messi has signed tattoos belonging to his followers, having added a scribble to the body sanctuaries of several Barca supporters over the years.
As sports memories grow, a full-size tattoo of Messi’s handwritten autograph is certainly more durable than a selfie – although much more painful.