Lionel Messi has become an icon amongst football fans over the past ten years.
Since bursting onto the scene as Barcelona's latest incredible talent in 2003, the Argentine has arguably become football's greatest ever player and inspired many young footballers in the process.
However, if his latest wonderful gesture is anything to go by, Messi should be looked up to not just as a sensational football player, but also as a kind-hearted human being.
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After undergoing 30 doses of radiotherapy to battle head and neck cancer last year, the Telegraph's chief sports writer, Paul Hayward, wrote an article titled "How the genius of Lionel Messi and Dan Carter gave me hope in fighting cancer".
Such was the beauty of Hayward's piece that Messi not only acknowledged it, but sent a signed shirt and letter of encouragement to show his support. See the evidence below.
And here's a compelling extract from Hayward's work, describing how Messi inspired him to keep fighting his illness.
"Then came the sharpest ray of light," he began. "Barcelona v Bayern Munich at Camp Nou, in May. On the screen in a room short on cheer, Lionel Messi collected a pass on his left foot, turned inside then out in an impossibly narrow channel and sent Jerome Boateng, the Bayern defender, falling sideways like a felled tree.
"Out came Manuel Neuer, the world’s best goalkeeper, to quash the threat with a giant, raised arm. And Messi chipped him. Chipped one of the biggest and most intimidating men in football.
“As the ball bounced into the net Rafinha, another Bayern defender, went with it, his body a tangle of thwarted desperation. The camera panned round the crowd to capture the sense of wonder. A man in an Argentina shirt and Barcelona scarf was having a religious experience.
"On the commentary, Martin Tyler said: “Only football can make you feel like this.” I felt myself rise from my chair, and illness fell away.
“That moment will not leave my memory, because it made the world feel full of possibilities again. And to think: philosophers have searched for uplifting human truths in the most complex of areas, yet here was a dink from the boot of Lionel Messi casting light across the world.”
Stunning. It just goes to show how powerful football can be to those who cherish it most.
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