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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Daniel Orme

Lionel Messi lifted FAKE World Cup trophy in most liked Instagram photo of all time

Lionel Messi inadvertently lifted a fake World Cup trophy as Argentina toasted their success in Qatar last month, according to reports.

The former Barcelona star was key to the South American side claiming their third title in the Middle East in December, netting six goals throughout the tournament - two of those coming in the final against France. Messi's performances were good enough to see him named the player of the tournament.

With Argentina ending their 36-year wait for World Cup glory, mass celebrations were triggered across the country and at Lusail Stadium. Veteran playmaker Messi was at the heart of those celebrations and lifted the World Cup, as his side's captain.

However, what Messi was unaware of was that the trophy that he and his teammates were celebrating with was actually fake. The Argentine captain lifted the genuine thing first and foremost but just minutes later, it was removed from the pitch by FIFA officials, as is customary.

According to Spanish newspaper El Pais, two Argentina fans in attendance, Manuel and Paula, had a replica trophy made and managed to get it passed down from the stands to the players. Photos were taken of the players celebrating with the trophy. These included Messi's snap on Instagram, which went on to become the most liked post of all time on the platform with just under 75million likes.

Speaking about the trophy and how it made its way into the hands of the players, Manuel and Paula said: "The idea was that the players could sign it, but in the end the Cup entered the field of play three times. The first one was taken by a relative of [Leandro] Paredes, and he signed it."

Lionel Messi lifts the World Cup after beating France (Getty Images)

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"The second time they asked us for it and it was 45 minutes, it went from one player to another, from one family member to another, and they took photos. In the stands they told me, 'you lost the Cup'. We had fun but we wanted it back.

"There, I yelled at a couple of players, 'if you see the Cup that Paredes has, it's ours', and in the end Lautaro Martinez brought it, who also signed it. FIFA personnel came there and asked us to confirm that it was not the original."

Whilst it appeared to go under the radar that the trophy was a fake, one man who did notice was Juventus wideman Angel Di Maria. The winger spotted slight differences and pointed them out to Messi, with the pair then sharing a joke.

Angel Di Maria notices that the trophy is not genuine (Getty Images)

The celebrations continued for weeks after the whole Argentina squad went back to South America to toast their victory among large swaths of supporters. Manuel and Paula also headed home and got to take their trophy with them. They are intent on keeping it.

Messi, meanwhile, is back at PSG and was given a great reception, with his teammates and members of the club's staff giving him a guard of honour at the training ground.

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