Several weeks ago, For The Win shared the story of how Lionel Messi snubbed fans at his Messi and Friends charity event at Soldier Field in Chicago.
The soccer superstar was scheduled to do a meet-and-greet before the match with fans who paid $2,500 per ticket to see him, take pictures and receive autographed jerseys and balls. The money would go to UNICEF on behalf of Messi’s foundation.
But Messi was a no-show and fans were left heartbroken.
One of those fans was 9-year-old Hudson Sherwood. His father, Tony, told For The Win that his son has six Messi jerseys, but in the car on the way home that day, Tony said Hudson told him, “Dad, next time I get a jersey, I don’t want it to be Messi.”
But Wednesday, the Sherwoods received an unexpected package from Barcelona.
Inside was a FC Barcelona jersey from Messi with the message, “Para Hudson de tu amigo. -Leo.”
“Although Hudson didn’t get to meet him, I am grateful that they did something nice for Hudson,” Tony told For The Win via email. “It made my wife cry…although not very hard.”
Hudson is currently at camp, so he hasn’t seen the surprise yet, his father said.
No other kids received personalized Messi jerseys. Tony said he had the help of a man named Risto Mejide, a Spanish publicist, author and musician, who has contacts with Messi and made it happen.
Tony said Mejide reached out to him on Twitter after being forwarded stories about the fiasco in Chicago.
“He really went out of his way, in my mind, to help a stranger,” Tony said.
So despite Hudson saying that he was never going to wear a Messi jersey again, his dad thinks he will love the gift.
“He is nine, he will be thrilled,” Tony said. “Kids are very short-term. I think he will be very excited.”