Photo Credit: Joan Montfort

Baptized by Messi: Meet Baby in Viral Photo Making History at EURO 2024

Now 16-year-old, Lamine Yamal, is a high schooler with many photos capturing the moments as he breaks records in soccer

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Following Spain’s semi-final match against France on July 9, a photograph from 2007 has resurfaced, capturing a moment that now seems prophetic in the world of soccer. The image shows a young Lionel Messi, then a 20-year-old rising star at FC Barcelona, bathing a five-month-old baby named Lamine Yamal.

Fast forward to 2024, and that baby has grown into an international soccer sensation though still in high school. Yamal recently made headlines by becoming the youngest player ever to score in the Euro 2024 semi-final, helping Spain secure a 2-1 victory over France with a spectacular goal. 

At Euro 2024, Yamal has continued to set records. He became the youngest player ever to appear in the tournament at 16 years and 338 days, and the youngest to provide an assist in a Euro finals game. His goal in the semi-final against France came just four days shy of his 17th birthday.

The viral photograph, originally taken as part of a charity campaign for Unicef, was shared on Instagram by Yamal’s father, Mounir Nasraoui, with the caption in spanis, “El comienzo de dos leyenda” meaning “The beginning of two legends.” 

Joan Montfort, the photographer who captured the moment, recently shared his recollections. He explained that Yamal’s family had won a Unicef raffle, earning the opportunity to meet Messi at Camp Nou in Barcelona. Montfort noted that the photo shoot was initially awkward, as Messi, known for being shy and introverted, was unsure how to hold the baby. However, young Lamine soon charmed Messi with just two smiles, helping the usually camera-shy player relax.

Born on July 13, 2007, in Esplugues de Llobregat, Spain, Yamal has been breaking records since joining Barcelona’s youth academy at age seven. He made his professional debut for the club on April 29, 2023, at just 15 years old, becoming the youngest player at Barcelona in over a century. His rapid rise continued on the international stage, becoming Spain’s youngest player and goalscorer at 16 years and 57 days old.

Yamal’s multicultural background – with a Moroccan father and mother from Equatorial Guinea – highlights the diverse tapestry of modern football. Despite his meteoric rise, Yamal remains grounded, even bringing his high school homework to the Euro 2024 tournament.

As Yamal follows in Messi’s footsteps at FC Barcelona and makes his mark on the international stage, this photograph serves as a reminder of the unpredictable nature of sports. At the time the picture was taken, Messi was yet to receive his first Ballon d’Or of December 2009 and the world may not have guessed he will receive seven more. 

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