As part of the promotional activities for the upcoming FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013, host-nation defender Sadık Ciftpınar met Argentina and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi – winner of the FIFA Ballon d’Or for the last four years.
Messi welcomed Ciftpınar into the team’s dressing room and had a short chat with the youngster following Barcelona’s home La Liga match against Valladolid and the lifting of the league trophy.
Before the chat, the Argentinian superstar had his photo taken with a Turkey shirt with his name on the back, the official mascot toy and traditional tray of Turkish delight, all of which were presented to him by Ciftpınar and the Turkey 2013 Local Organising Committee (LOC).
“First of all, I salute Turkey,” said Messi. “I hope that it will be a great U-20 World Cup in Turkey this summer. Thanks to this event, Turkey are sure to make progress in organisational terms as well. It will also be an opportunity for young talents to showcase their abilities on the world stage.”
After congratulating Messi on his side’s La Liga title triumph, Turkey defender Ciftpınar could barely conceal his excitement: “I feel very happy and honoured to be here and meeting Messi. Messi is an idol for many young football players in Turkey and everywhere else in the world. This is a unique moment which I won’t forget for the rest of my life.”
Though only 12 when Messi was bursting onto the global scene in La Albiceleste’s triumph at the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2005, Ciftpınar did have clear recollections of his displays. “I was still a child then, but I remember really admiring his performances at the tournament, when I watched him for the first time,” said the defender.
“I particularly remember an unforgettable goal he scored against Brazil. We would be very happy to welcome Messi to Turkey, and I would like to invite him to our country. I hope we can meet again one day and play against each other out on the pitch.”
Messi was delighted with Çiftpınar’s words and, after a farewell embrace, said goodbye and wished Turkey the best of luck for the upcoming FIFA U-20 World Cup. At the aforementioned 2005 event in the Netherlands, Messi was awarded the adidas Golden Shoe for the competition’s top scorer and the adidas Golden Boot as its best player.
What is more, Barcelona President Sandro Rosell welcomed Ciftpınar to Camp Nou’s VIP hospitality area before the game, in addition to having his photo taken with Sadık and the official tournament mascot toy. Rosell also wished hosts Turkey all the best for a successful hosting of the FIFA U-20 World Cup, which will be held between 21 June and 13 July.