Saudi fans love-hate relationship with Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi with Al Hilal Owners
Lionel Messi with Al Hilal Owners (Source: X)

Ashish Pendse from Riyadh

Saudi Arabia is reliving the winning goal by Salem Al-Dawsari against the eventual world champions Argentina and Lionel Messi.  “Messi chao, chao, chao (Messi goodbye),” is still en vogue among Saudi football fans. The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner’s arrival in Riyadh has reignited a love-hate relationship. Some are even sarcastically saying, “Messi who”!

Football fans worldwide fall for Messi magic, arguably the greatest footballer of his generation. Saudi Arabian football fans are no different. They adore Messi’s soccer sorcery – dribbles, nutmegs and goal-bound runs. But Saudi Arabia’s win over Argentina at the Qatar World Cup seemingly has earned the local fans some bragging rights about the Argentine master.

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This love-hate relationship was evident at the Al-Hilal versus Inter Miami FC gr at the Riyadh Season’s opener Cup 2024. The exciting game saw global football stars battle it out. As always, Messi was the centre of attraction. Every time he made a move or collected the ball and attempted to have a go at the Al Hilal goal, the passionate crowd at the Kingdom Arena booed Messi. And then, the very next moment, they appreciated the great man’s football wizardry.

The neutrals were amused and Michal was one of them. “I have seen many football games in Europe. But for the first time, I am witnessing such a love-hate relationship with one player in a game,” he said.

(Ashish Pendse is in Riyadh, covering the trip exclusively for RevSportz)

Lionel Messi vs Al Hilal
Lionel Messi vs Al Hilal (Source: X)

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