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Lionel Messi has kickabout with London boy, 11, on beach in Antigua

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 22/07/2019 Gerard Couzens
REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez © Reuters REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez

A youngster pictured enjoying a kickabout on a Caribbean beach with Lionel Messi and his children has been identified as an 11-year-old from north London.

The Barcelona star was last week pictured playing football with his son Thiago, six, and three other children including a blonde schoolboy on a beach in Antigua.

Today the boy was named as Mackenzie O’Neill.

The youngster told Argentinian sports daily Ole: “Messi was with his family on the beach. I was on my own and began to kick my ball a few feet from where they were.

“His dad Jorge threw a ball to me and asked if I wanted to play with them and then we played football with Thiago and Messi for 45 minutes.

a man standing on a beach posing for the camera: Lionel Messi with Mackenzie O'Neill, 11 (Instagram) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited Lionel Messi with Mackenzie O'Neill, 11 (Instagram)

“Thiago is a fantastic player for his age and wasn’t shy about playing. Playing with Messi was incredible.

“Messi’s wife translated because she speaks English very well. Later on I ended up swimming with Messi and we went out on a little boat and spent a lot of time in the water.”

Asked by the paper, which said it had interviewed Mackenzie with his mother Anna’s permission, if Messi had given him any advice about football, he replied: “No, because he doesn’t speak English, but seeing how skilful he was was enough advice for me.

“Playing with Leo in the water was great fun. He acted like a normal dad. I also realised that Messi really enjoyed seeing his son play with other children.”

He added: “The last night Messi and his family were here I was playing with Thiago and gave him my football to keep.

(NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images) © Getty (NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)

“But he ran after me along the beach and insisted I keep it. Afterwards Messi and his wife said goodbye to me with huge smiles. I am not going to forget them.”

Messi stayed with his family in a luxurious villa at Jumby Bay in Antigua.

He used the break to get over his disappointment at Argentina’s failure to win the Copa America.

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