Lionel Messi: When Brazil fans applauded Barcelona star off the pitch

Lionel Andres Messi is one of the greatest footballers of all time.

If you ask many fans across the world, they will tell you that the Barcelona legend is the finest player to have ever kicked a ball.

Messi’s performances and stats throughout his career back-up that opinion, but there are some who believe the Barcelona superstar’s failure to win a trophy at international level means that he cannot be labelled the ‘GOAT’.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, of course. However, the idea that Messi has struggled in an Argentina shirt is a laughable one.

He’s led his country to three major finals (one World Cup, two Copa Americas) and is the South American nation’s record scorer with 71 goals.

Messi with Argentina

Five of Messi‘s strikes for Argentina have come against the nation’s bitter rivals Brazil and in June 2008, the 33-year-old dropped a memorable performance against them in Belo Horizonte.

In a FIFA World Cup qualifying match, the diminutive forward was at his brilliant best, tormenting an under fire Brazil team with his quick feet and low-centre of gravity.

The game finished 0-0, but Messi’s performance was so good that he was applauded off the pitch by fans of Argentina’s arch enemy.

You can watch highlights of his display and the resulting ovation from those present at the match in the video below.

Messi vs Brazil 2008

He’s never been applauded off the pitch by Real Madrid fans at the Bernabeu, but Messi has received the honour from Brazilian supporters in their own country, which is just as impressive in our eyes – especially after a 0-0.

It’s not like it was a dreadful Brazil side on paper either. Yes, the team managed by Dunga were out of form at the time, but their lineup against Argentina still contained the likes of Maicon, Lucio, Adriano, Julio Baptista and Robinho.

“Argentina come to play in Brazil and our fans applaud Messi,” former Tottenham defender Gilberto said after the game, per Evening Standard. “When he was substituted 40,000 people applauded him.”

Brazil fans didn’t know at the time, but the 20-year-old they were applauding would go on to dominate the sport and win the Ballon d’Or a record-breaking six times.

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