Story Behind Viral Photos Of Messi, Six-month-old Lamine Yamal

Old photos of a young Lionel Messi with an infant Lamine Yamal have resurfaced and gone viral, just as Yamal’s outstanding performance at the 2024 European Championship captured widespread attention.

Messi was photographed bathing a young Yamal, in a photo that was first posted by the teenager’s father, Mounir Nasraoui.

Football fans have jokingly suggested that the skills and abilities of the eight Ballon d’Or awards and World Cup winner were somehow transferred to Yamal during the bath.

Yamal etched his name in the record books by becoming the youngest player to score in the European Championship, aged just 16 years and 362 days, with his historic goal coming in the semi-final clash against France in Munich on Tuesday.

This was after he became the youngest player ever in the ongoing Euro 2024 in Germany and has been praised as one of the best players on Spain’s national team during the tournament.

According to the BBC, the photos were captured by Joan Monfort, a freelance photographer who contributes to the Associated Press.

In December 2007, Monfort snapped the photo of a 20-year-old Lionel Messi, already four years into his illustrious Barcelona career, cradling a tiny Yamal, who was just six months old at the time.

“It was a difficult photo to take. We can say I sweated some blood to take it.

“Messi is still shy now; he was much more shy when he was starting out and he finds himself there with a tiny baby in a plastic bath full of water. And with his mother. At the start, there was not much interaction. It was difficult for all of them. But, bit by bit, it started to happen and in the end, it’s a pretty good photo,” Monfort told The Athletic.

The photo was featured in a 2008 charity calendar, a collaborative project between Barcelona’s foundation and Diario Sport, with proceeds benefiting various charitable organisations, including UNICEF and local NGOs in Catalonia, supporting vulnerable communities and children.

The charity calendar featured photos of Barcelona players alongside children.

The Athletic reports that “hundreds of families collaborated with the initiative for a number of years and most of the photos have now been forgotten, outside of the families of the children who have treasured private memories.”

In a remarkable twist of fate, Yamal, Barcelona’s budding sensation, was paired with Messi, now a beloved club icon.

“It’s something incredible. Back then, nobody could imagine that this baby would be who he is now — and you could not have known that Messi would become who he became, either,” Monfort said.

The bathtime photo, along with other tender moments from the photoshoot have now resurfaced.  

The rediscovered images show Messi tenderly cradling baby Yamal in a towel and Yamal’s mother, Sheila Ebana, playfully washing her son.

In December 2007, Messi was still a rising star in a star-studded Barcelona squad, having already won two La Liga titles and a Champions League at just 20 years old.

“They gave you a list of players — 12: one for each month.

“You have to take your time. Often footballers come in and say, ‘Let’s go, let’s do it. I’m in a rush; what do you want to do?’.

“It can be a bit cold, especially in a photo where you need interaction between two people who do not know each other. Then, when one is six months old and the other is 20, it can get difficult, but it turned out pretty well.

“The mother helped a lot. Her presence was super necessary, so the baby did not feel it was too strange. You look for a tender image — something sweet and nice,” Monfort stated.

Fast forward six and a half years, Yamal’s life took a significant turn when he began commuting from Mataro to Barcelona’s iconic La Masia academy.

He made his La Liga debut at just 15 years old in April 2023, followed by his international debut for Spain at 16

“For Lamine to grow up to be a footballer, and to have this photo, I’m just really happy it happened. It’s especially nice in today’s football when so much has to do with money and power,” the photographer remarked.

See photos below:


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