Fabián Vargas has revealed Lionel Messi earned his lifelong respect with a great gesture in 2011, in an interview with a Colombian outlet. El País reports that during a match in 2010 between Barcelona and Almeria, Vargas had asked for help for victims of a flood in his country. Heavy rains related to the La Niña weather phenomenon battered Colombia in 2010 and 2011.
“Before the match, some of my friends had called me to ask me to auction off one of my shirts to benefit the victims in my country due to flooding that year. I took the opportunity because we played Barcelona, to go find Leo before the game to tell him the situation and ask him if he could give me his shirt as a gift,” he explained.
Messi scored a hat-trick and Barça won 8-0, and Vargas says he was so annoyed by the scoreline he forgot all about it.
“I left the pitch so angry and sad that I forgot about the topic.”
Later, the kitman came to him and said someone was waiting outside the locker room.
“I left, and there he was with a bag. I remember him saying, ‘look, these are shirts that I could get.’ I gave him my thanks and hugged him. When I got back and I opened the bag, there was not only Messi’s shirt, but also those of Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, Dani Alves, Gerard Piqué, and Carles Puyol. I’ll never forget that gesture.
“He is a player touched by a magic wand, one of those that is born every so many years to mark an era in football. I hope he continues breaking records, because of that gesture he had with me, it’s something I always wish for,” Vargas said.