Since Lionel Messi made the first of his 122 appearances for Argentina, more than 150 new players have been called up to the country’s international football squad.
When you add in all the players called up to the country’s underage teams, that figure becomes a whole lot higher.
So is it really fair to expect Messi to be able to recognise every single one of them?
That’s the excuse one of the world’s best footballers might want to give after failing to pick out a current member of the Argentina Under-20 squad, in a move reminiscent of American journalists referring to Ireland’s record goalscorer Robbie Keane as ‘an unidentified fan’.
Messi is part of the Argentina squad currently in Russia ahead of a friendly against the 2018 World Cup hosts, and was chilling with his teammates in their hotel when he was approached by a young man asking for a photo.
Naturally, being a lovely bloke, Messi obliged.
However, it was only when the photo was uploaded to social media that he realised not only was the guy a professional footballer, but it was one who he had met before.
Sebastián Driussi, an Argentina Under-20 forward, plays his club football in Russia with Zenit St. Petersburg, where he is a teammate of Messi’s full international colleagues Emmanuel Mammana, Emiliano Rigoni, Leandro Paredes and Matías Kranevitter.
“I felt bad for not having recognised him at the time because I do know him. I know who he is,” Messi told Fox Sports Argentina, as translated by ESPN FC.
“When he asked me for the photograph I thought he was one of the guys that are always waiting for a photograph.”
Messi probably could have styled it out and pretended he knew all along, but he’s just too honest.
The logical conclusion to the story, and one we hope we’ll see next summer, involves Driussi having a great season for Zenit and earning a World Cup call-up before scoring the winner in the final from a Messi pass.