Just as he’s done to countless defenders over the years, Lionel Messi has once again been involuntarily reducing people to tears.

Indeed, just the mere sight of Messi was enough to inspire joyous weeping from his fans in South Africa as the Barcelona superstar signed shirts at the team hotel.

“The expectation which Leo generated here [in South Africa] was incredible,” Barca boss Ernesto Valverde said. “They were screaming for him from the very first moment, not just in the stadium, but from the second we stepped foot in the country.”

Barca flew into Johannesburg to play against Mamelodi Sundowns in the annual Mandela Cup — an exhibition match organised to commemorate what would have been the 100th birthday of Nelson Mandela.

The La Liga giants eventually won the match 3-1 thanks to goals from Ousmane Dembele, Luis Suarez and Andre Gomes.


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