After two days of waiting in a vacuum at the gates of Le Bourget and around the red carpet of the Parc des Princes, Parisian supporters finally saw him: Lionel Messi has arrived in the capital. Preview, to put it mildly: for all these hours of waiting, the new worshipers of the flea were only entitled to a little salute at a window, then another between two vans, and another around on the balcony of the Royal Monceau. Story of a historic day.

By Alexandre Aflalo and Adrien Hémard, in Paris and in the inner suburbs
wednesday 11 august

The sun is setting in the Parisian sky, but the surroundings of the Parc des Princes suddenly light up. It is 7.40 p.m., it has been several hours since the square of the concrete vessel has been cordoned off by the police, and invaded by the Parisian people. Like one man, the Parisian supporters rise up and melt towards the cordon of barriers and CRS at the foot of the Borelli stand. This is at least the tenth crowd movement of the afternoon, but at its scale, its clamor, we immediately understand that it is the right one. After two days of camping in front of the Park, the Parisian public is exulting. The king is there.

Le Bourget Gentilhomme

A brief divine apparition which marked the end of a day of mad waiting, which had started very early, about thirty kilometers north of the Porte d’Auteuil enclosure. Paris-Le Bourget Airport, where private jets come and go from the capital, and therefore the place where Lionel Andrés Messi would put his magical left foot on the soil of France. The first to arrive are there from daybreak. Don’t want to miss a single crumb of the flea. The announcement early in the morning of a total agreement between Messi and PSG leaves no doubt: after two days of waiting for nothing, this time it’s the right one. At the beginning of the afternoon, they are already several hundred to have gathered along the security barriers placed around the building where the Argentinian must disembark after his landing. In the crowd, not a glance goes away from the screens of smartphones, where we follow the latest news. At the stroke of 2 p.m., Antonella Roccuzzo, companion of Messi, posted in her Instagram story a photo of the most wanted man in Paris aboard his private jet. Flight time: around 1h30. The countdown begins.

In this kind of moment, the slightest rumor thrills in the ranks of the supporters, the slightest movement on the tarmac or around the doors triggers the cries and makes the crowd sprint like headless chickens. Everyone wants to see their little piece of Messi, even if it means waiting for hours in front of a gray building and applauding any guy in a suit that comes out. Aziz, 33 years old, in his complete Barça tracksuit, watches the door as a regular: he was there Monday, all day, and Sunday evening too, until midnight. ” There were a lot of people, but not Messi He sneers. Support Barça? ” Before, but I especially like Messi, he’s my idol. If he had signed in Reims, I would have supported Reims. »

Speaking of champagne, supporters are starting to get impatient to be able to uncork it. We hear here and there that the jet lands, but impossible to see it. The journalists present try to climb up to look over the opaque grid that separates the outside of the tarmac. The movement of five black vans betrays an imminent arrival. And then suddenly, the light: it is 3:51 p.m., to be precise, when Leo Messi appears in the window of the Bourget floor, t-shirt “Here is Paris”on the shoulders. The time for a papal salute of a minute to a crowd that was waiting for him to crack its smoke and light its fireworks, and here it is, already disappearing. The supporters remain. Hope for more. 4:15 p.m., the van is seen escaping by a hidden path. We run after him, but it is too late: Lionel Messi is on his way to the American hospital in Neuilly.

“We don’t move until he has signed”

Meanwhile at the Parc des Princes, the square has already been roaring since the beginning of the afternoon, proof that yes, there can be people in Paris in August. Messi’s plane had not yet landed that they were already several thousand to tread the pavement. And to warm up your voice, based on ” Messi, Messi » , « Merci Nasser»Which alternate with classics from Auteuil and a few courtesies addressed to the Marseillais. “Forced he signs today, even on a leg or with cancer, he signs. We don’t move until he has signed », Promises Alexis, 28, who is already turning to rum-coke with his friends from the group Titi Paname. The three thieves scrutinizeFlight Radar, the app that has dethroned TiktTok for two days in the capital. But at 3:44 p.m., the false suspense flies away: the first photos of Messi at Le Bourget begin to surface. The PSG Twitter account formalizes the thing in half-words.

It is believed that the CRS were also waiting for this signal, as they deployed in the process and evacuated the adjoining square. «But we don’t know more than you, we don’t know if he will come», Assures a man in blue. A little further on, a red and black Newell’s Old Boys jersey cuts through the crowd. Argentinian rugby player at Orsay for five years, Augustin did not want to miss that: “It was too early for him to come home, but he will someday.“During that time, dozens of televisions chained duplexes as best they could, with the same background each time: overexcited supporters who scream. Bryan Levavasseur, journalist for RMC Sport in charge of a documentary on theflea, stamps: “We had confirmation of his arrival at 12 o’clock, we came here direct. We wait, like everyone else.But the crowd suddenly thinned with scooters and Uber drivers: Messi is in the American hospital, 8 kilometers away. Next step, the Park?

The hospital, charity, all that

« Frankly, it’s almost worse than when you get a foreign leader»Hallucinates one of the police motorcyclists. It must be said that the device is dizzying: to escort the three cars transporting the entire small delegation to Neuilly and the place of the medical examination, 18 motorcycles were requested. When they all park in a row of onions in the town of Nicolas Sarkozy and Sami Ben Boudaoud, the inhabitants are amazed. One of them is even very annoyed when the police ask him to divert the route planned for his afternoon jogging. In front of the Neuilly hospital, a little less crowded than at Bourget and at the Parc. It must be said that the chances of seeing Messi are slimmer. “I was stationed in front of the door, I saw movement elsewhere so I ran over there, and in the end he entered through where I was», Regrets Noah, come with his friends. No chance. Inside, Messi is being examined from all angles by the best specialists in the area. Outside, we always hope to see even a hair.

Once the medical examination is completed, there is only one ritual left: the passage through the red carpet of the Parc des Princes. The rumor circulates quickly: Messi arrives, he skips the stage at the factory, the PSG offices in Boulogne-Billancourt. It happens, therefore. It will actually take almost two hours. Nick Simon, an English colleague sent unexpectedly by theDaily Mailwhile he was on vacation in Paris, comes to the news: “I am a rugby specialist, does this kind of reception often happen for a football player? Is he going to come at least? Anyway, I prefer this stage“, He taunts, pointing to Jean Bouin, the lair of the French Stadium. Yes, Nick, he’s coming. The proof: security guards are deployed on the red carpet. Some leaders then take the lead, on a short scale, to synchronize the Parisian songs in the regrettable absence of the ultras.

See you tomorrow, same time, same place

Each element of street furniture – and even natural, according to the supporter perched on top of a tree – becomes a promontory to see the chosen one, while the CRS abandon the idea of ​​bringing down the apprentice stuntmen. They are too busy looking closely at their trucks at the entrance to the stadium parking lot. Another sign that Messi is coming, for sure, we are reassured. But the clock is ticking, and the roundabout of Europe is half empty. There is a rumor that Messi will not come, that he will be presented the next day at the Trocadero anyway, because he is well worth it. At 7 p.m., the arrival of two scooters wakes everyone up. Missed. Twenty minutes later, the presidential convoy with its bikes and Mercedes vans tumbles: the crowd is agitated.

Everyone then expects to see the handsome Lionel walk the red carpet. But decidedly in a kid’s mood after his surprise departure from Barça, the Argentine surprises again and points his face to the opposite, arriving on foot between the CRS. It is 7:40 pm, and the sixty-nine meter comes to offer himself an express walkabout, all smiles. The joy is as intense as it is short: five minutes later, Messi is eclipsed by the square. A speaker announces that he will be back Wednesday, same place, at 12 hours after his press conference at the Park. This time, the crowd is no longer waiting. Everyone goes back to their cottage. The evening one for the neo-Parisian is the Royal Monceau in the 8e arrondissement. On site, the new king of Paris greets the crowd from the balcony, hearing his coronation in due form this Wednesday, at the Parc des Princes.

By Alexandre Aflalo and Adrien Hémard, in Paris and in the inner suburbs


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