‘My heart stopped’: Messi endures career-threatening horror tackle before fans swarm pitch to meet relieved Argentina hero (VIDEO)
If they were up watching in the early hours of the morning in Europe, PSG directors and fans will have let out a collective wince at the incident which occurred in the 32nd minute with the score still deadlocked at 0-0.
With Messi yet to make his first start for the Ligue 1 giants since joining from Barcelona as a free agent last month, his bosses hope that the 34-year-old makes it back from South America in one piece after a trio of games in the continent's typically rough World Cup qualifiers.
And how he almost didn't.
Foul on Messi that led to a red card during Argentina’s game vs Venezuela. Glad his leg isn’t in pieces after that 😰 pic.twitter.com/WGRS93p6Kj— El Mogos (@stickybusiness0) September 3, 2021
This tackle on Messi led to a red card 😵 pic.twitter.com/KR8gpmBzxN— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 3, 2021
Seemingly making little effort to play the ball, Adrian Martinez came in on the Ballon d'Or holder with his studs raised and made contact that almost bent Messi's prized left leg completely out of shape.
Unsurprisingly, the Deportivo La Guaira center-back was shown a straight red after the referee consulted VAR, with the Copa America champions going on to notch a 3-1 win ahead of Sunday's meeting with their recent Maracana victims, Brazil.
In the aftermath of what Spanish daily sports newspaper Marca dubbed "the worst tackle Messi has received in his career", social media was laden with shock and concern.
VAR coming into play, the decision is a red card. Everyone be grateful that Messi is okay, that was a career ending tackle.. My heart stopped.— J. (@MessiIizer) September 3, 2021
"Everyone be grateful that Messi is okay – that was a career-ending tackle...My heart stopped," claimed one fan, as another said they were "glad his leg isn’t in pieces after that".
"Penaldo would be crying," scoffed one viewer, referencing the forward's generational rival, Cristiano Ronaldo.
"'But he wouldn’t survive in Premier League'," it was also said, parroting an often repeated phrase regarding Messi being reluctant to try his luck outside of La Liga until this summer.
“but he wouldn’t survive in premier league”🤡— santosmessi, edson (@edsonsa79718631) September 3, 2021
Messi can play UFC after quitting play football.— Leo (@LeoKawsar10_) September 3, 2021
"It’s honestly incredible how non-Messi fans are still able to hate even on such a dangerous tackle that could’ve broke his leg."
"There is a certain limit, folks. And respect, health is never beyond it," complained one disgruntled party, as it was elsewhere suggested that Messi can now "play UFC after quitting football".
How the F he is still playing 😱😱😱 they should X-ray Messi’s leg. Awful tackle— AliveNhappy (@mytwits_fornon) September 3, 2021
Messi really has the streets. Fans were gathering in hordes to meet Leo. 🐐 pic.twitter.com/IRHtSkqwis— 𝙨𝙤𝙝𝙤𝙢 ४ (@AwaaraHoon) September 3, 2021
Battling on through the rest of the 90 minutes, the evening at least finished in good spirits for Messi.
At full-time, he warmly embraced Venezuela fans who stormed the pitch to greet him, holding one young boy with a new Messi PSG number 30 jersey particularly close to him.Also on rt.com One returns a king, the other is out of place in Paris: Ronaldo and Messi transfers signal contrasting ends for all-time greats