‘Forgive us… it is difficult to see everyone’: Lionel Messi sends a public apology to locals in his hometown after being crowned ‘Illustrious Citizen’ after World Cup triumph… as he tries to enjoy downtime and avoid being swamped by adoring fans
- Lionel Messi has been given an ‘Illustrious Citizen’ plaque for World Cup heroics
- Messi captained Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar just nine days ago
- The forward is currently back in Rosario, Argentina celebrating with loved ones
The accolades keep pouring in for Lionel Messi and Argentina’s talisman has been the beneficiary of another prize after his World Cup heroics.
Messi captained his country to their third World Cup triumph, and first in 36 years, on December 18 after a dramatic 4-2 penalty shootout win over France following a pulsating 3-3 draw after extra-time – in which he scored twice.
The 35-year-old is currently in his homeland celebrating with loved ones in Rosario as Argentina rejoices in Lionel Scaloni’s side.
Lionel Messi (centre right) has been given an ‘Illustrious Citizen’ plaque for his World Cup glory
Messi then apologised to Rosario locals for not celebrating too much in the public spotlight – instead choosing to rejoice with his loved ones in private after Argentina’s World Cup triumph
He scored twice as Argentina beat France to win the World Cup final in Qatar earlier this month
Messi-mania has taken on a whole new meaning since Argentina’s success with the iconic No 10 unable to leave his home, due to the swathes of compatriots wishing to congratulate him.
However, the forward did welcome the Mayor of Funes – Roly Santacroce – into his house to collect an ‘Illustrious Citizen’ plaque for his World Cup exploits in Qatar.
And upon receiving the award, Messi had a special message for his supporters – thanking them and apologising for not being so visibly public.
‘Well, we wanted to send our greetings to all the people of Funes, Rosario in general,’ he said.
‘We would like to thank you for the love you have always shown us, especially now at this time when I have just arrived back from the World Cup.
‘Forgive us as well because sometimes it is difficult to see everyone, we are with family and friends for a few days and sometimes it is complicated.’
Messi and his wife arrived back at their home in Funes, near Rosario, after Argentina’s World Cup win to be greeted by hundreds of jubilant fans outside
Argentina has been in a state of celebratory chaos since their World Cup triumph nine days ago.
Indeed, such was the boisterous nature of the celebrations, an open-top bus parade had to be abandoned after fans jumped onto it from bridges.
Messi and Angel di Maria both returned to their homes near Rosario by helicopter with the Paris Saint-Germain star then mobbed by fans as he arrived back at his home by car.
Video footage showed Messi’s car being swamped by adoring fans as he returned home with wife Antonella Roccuzzo following the abandoned victory parade in the capital Buenos Aires.
Argentina’s open-top bus parade had to be cut short as the government intervened over safety
More than four million people turned out in Buenos Aires to celebrate their World Cup heroes
Players were evacuated onto helicopters after it became clear their bus journey was halted
Messi (left) boarded one with Angel di Maria (centre) back to Rosario as a result of the chaos
Messi waves to adoring fans while holding the World Cup during pandemonium in the capital
Messi tried to take in the millions of fans out celebrating by recording on his phone
Messi was born in Rosario and it’s also the city where he began his football career
Upon his arrival, Messi was greeted by hundreds of cheering fans chanting ‘Dale Campeon’ translating to ‘Let’s go champion’.
The jubilant fans had been pushed to two sides by security to clear space for his wife to drive the car through the middle and inside a building.
Messi is expected to spend Christmas with family and friends at his house in Funes, about 15km west of Rosario, before returning to PSG duty.
The French league leaders return to action against Strasbourg on December 28 but it remains unclear whether Messi will be back in time.
Argentina were given a hero’s welcome after returning home from Qatar as world champions
Argentina’s players celebrated on an open-top bus after landing at Buenos Aires airport
Messi and Argentina’s stars returned as heroes as they landed at Ezeiza International Airport