Publish date:

Starstruck Opponent Has Lionel Messi Take Photo With His Baby

In Monday's Hot Clicks: Messi Mania takes France, the Mets turn on their fans and more.

Messi Mania has begun in earnest in France.

Nearly three weeks after completing his move to Paris Saint-Germain, Messi finally made his Ligue 1 debut when he came on as a substitute to replace Neymar in the 66th minute of the team’s matchup with Reims. The sight of Messi in the blue and red of PSG, wearing No. 30 still seems like a strange dream.

PSG cruised to an easy 2–0 win behind a pair of goals from Kylian Mbappé, both scored before Messi entered the game. It wasn’t the most exciting debut but it was a good way to let Messi get into a game before the international break and ahead of what should hopefully be his home debut on Sept. 11 against Clermont.

For the other players on the field, though, playing against Messi was the experience of a lifetime. None of the Reims players could have expected before the season started that they would be sharing the field with perhaps the greatest player in soccer history, let alone in his first match for his new club. It was the kind of day they’ll want to remember forever.

Goalkeeper Predrag Rajković’s son is too young to remember what he saw at the Stade Auguste Delaune, but his dad made sure he’d have proof he was there. After the match, Rajković tracked down Messi and handed his son to him to pose for a photo.

SI Recommends

Rajković’s wife, Ana, posted the photo on Instagram.

That might be a sign of things to come for Messi’s tenure in France. It has been a long time since Ligue 1, Europe’s sixth-best league, had a star anywhere close to his caliber. (Mbappé and Neymar are outstanding players, but they aren’t global icons on the same level as Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.) PSG’s road schedule will be a traveling circus with Messi as the main attraction. Rajković won’t be the last guy to thrust a baby into Messi’s arms, or ask for an autograph, or snag a selfie. Nor should he be. Getting to share the field with a legend of Messi’s stature is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. 

The best of SI

Nebraska’s loss to Illinois was a familiar one for Scott Frost, who is running out of time to turn things around. ... Manchester United fans are excited about Cristiano Ronaldo’s return but it doesn’t make much on-field sense. ... The SWAC is in the spotlight as college football season begins

Around the sports world

ESPN aired a football game featuring a very shady online high school that apparently lied about how good its players were in order to get on TV. ... Bills receiver Isaiah McKenzie got his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine days after being fined by the NFL for violating the restrictions placed on unvaccinated players. ... English soccer team Wigan Athletic paid tribute to a fan’s dead duck during Saturday’s game. ... Trent Dilfer, who is now coaching high school football in Nashville, is in hot water after a video went viral of him shoving and berating one of his players

The Mets’ ability to generate stupid scandals is unparalleled

The Sunday Night Baseball broadcast can be painful to watch

Messi in blue, still very weird

Cleveland scored the game-winning run because a Red Sox fielder obstructed the runner

I actually think he‘s telling the truth

44-year-old Scott Gutschewski got his PGA Tour card back after 10 years

A shocking sight for Bills fans

Peterman had his moment in the sun this preseason

Not sports

A 43-year-old Michigan man successfully sued his parents for throwing away his porn collection and was awarded $30,000 in damages. ... The surviving members of Queen say they wrote “Under Pressure” while drunk with David Bowie and forgot the iconic riff. ... Scientists on an expedition in Greenland discovered the world’s northernmost island by accident

A good song

Email dan.gartland@si.com with any feedback or follow me on Twitter for approximately one half-decent baseball joke per week. Bookmark this page to see previous editions of Hot Clicks and find the newest edition every day. By popular request I’ve made a Spotify playlist of the music featured here. Visit our Extra Mustard page throughout each day for more offbeat sports stories.