Lionel Messi meets local youth soccer teams during visit to North Naples

Author: Zach Oliveri
Published: Updated:

Jeronimo O’Meara, 7, tries to replicate greatness. Specifically, the greatest soccer player alive: Inter Miami’s Lionel Messi. O’Meara’s nickname is “Little Messi.”

“In my school I used to do free kicks and I used to make them,” O’Meara explained. “And every single time I took a penalty I always took a fake kick because that’s the new rule that Messi started doing in FIFA.”

“Little Messi” was the first on his team to hug the real Messi! Naples Elite Soccer Club got to meet the soccer superstar and take pictures after their game at North Collier Regional Park Saturday.

“It was my first time hugging him,” O’Meara said. “And I even got a picture with him because I knew he was going to be my friend.”

Mikey Depaola said he couldn’t focus on the game knowing Messi was there.

“We played a whole entire game. And it was we were very tired when we started running to go meet Messi,” Enzo Tucciarelli said.

“He was very focused on making the kids happy,” Naples Elite Soccer Club Coach and Technical Director Jamie Edwards recalled. “Making the even the parents and the coaches happy of signing autographs and and just taking pictures.”

A massive crowd rushed to get a glimpse of Messi, who was at the park to watch his son play. But Naples Elite’s opponent on Saturday, Florida West FC, also got the chance to interact with the G.O.A.T.

“The man literally stopped eating his lunch to come and take photos with the boys,” Florida West FC coach Wilfredo Aparicio said. “Not a lot of superstars would do such a thing.”

“One day people are going to know when I’m a grown up and I’ll be good at soccer. Because of that photo,” Paxton Wittrock said.

“I pinched myself in that picture to make sure it was real,” Dietrich Jurca said.

“They got their uniforms signed,” Aparicio explained. “A bunch need to order more uniforms because they can’t wear them because they won’t wash them.”

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