Teamwork makes the dream work

Child image of Lamine Yamal and younger Lionel Messi resurfaces after nearly 17 years

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When Joan Monfort took photographs of Lionel Messi with a child for a charity calendar nearly 17 years in the past, he knew the long-haired younger man would make it large in soccer.

He couldn’t have imagined the little boy would as nicely.

The child within the photographs was none apart from younger Spanish star Lamine Yamal who, at 16, is exhibiting such promise for Messi’s former Barcelona membership that he is already being in comparison with the greats himself.

He turned the youngest participant ever within the ongoing Euro 2024 in Germany and has registered two assists for Spain through the match, together with within the opening purpose of Spain’s dramatic 2-1 quarterfinals win over the host Germans.

Monfort took an image that now resembles the long run and previous legends of soccer. 

The long-forgotten picture from 2007 resurfaced after Yamal’s father posted it on Instagram final week with the textual content “the start of two legends.”

Monfort, 56, who works as a contract photographer for The Related Press and others, mentioned the picture shoot befell within the guests’ locker room at Barcelona’s Camp Nou within the autumn of 2007, when Yamal was only a few months outdated.

Barcelona gamers posed with youngsters and their households for a calendar as a part of an annual charity drive by native newspaper Diario Sport and UNICEF. Monfort was in command of the picture shoots — and it simply so occurred that Messi was paired with Yamal’s household. His mom, who’s from Equatorial Guinea, is subsequent to Messi and the newborn in one of many photographs.

“We made the calendar with the assistance of UNICEF. So UNICEF did a raffle within the neighborhood of Roca Fonda in Mataró the place Lamine’s household lived. They signed up for the raffle to have their image taken on the Camp Nou with a Barca participant. And so they gained the raffle,” Monfort mentioned.

It wasn’t a straightforward task, he recalled, primarily as a result of Messi wasn’t certain learn how to work together with child Lamine, who was in a plastic tub for the shoot.

“Messi is a reasonably introverted man, he is shy,” Monfort mentioned. “He was popping out of the locker room and out of the blue he finds himself in one other locker room with a plastic tub stuffed with water and a child in it. It was difficult. He did not even know learn how to maintain him at first.”

Messi was 20 on the time and recent into his Barcelona profession, was already thought-about an enormous expertise, however it could take a few years earlier than he made his mark as probably the most excellent participant of his technology for Barcelona and Argentina. Messi’s Argentina facet is now two wins away from successful the 2024 Copa América, which might be its third straight main worldwide match title.

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Like Messi, Yamal has gone by Barcelona’s famend La Masia youth academy. Regardless of his age, he is been certainly one of Spain’s greatest gamers at Euro 2024, the place his staff will play France within the semifinals on Tuesday (3 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports activities App). Yamal will flip 17 on Saturday, the day earlier than the ultimate in Berlin.

Monfort, 56, had no thought it was Yamal in these photographs from 2007 till a good friend messaged him as they began trending on-line.

He is had a protracted profession as a sports activities photographer since 1991, following Barcelona all over the world, however mentioned he is by no means skilled this stage of pleasure round any of his photographs.

“It’s totally thrilling to be related to one thing that has precipitated such a sensation,” he mentioned. “To inform you the reality it is a very good feeling.”

Reporting by The Related Press.

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