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Messi messes up with East End no show

PUBLISHED: 11:29 16 September 2010 | UPDATED: 11:40 16 September 2010

Stepney youngsters try out to play football with Lionel Massi at Trafalgar Gardens on 15th September 2010

Stepney youngsters try out to play football with Lionel Massi at Trafalgar Gardens on 15th September 2010

Olivia Harris, oliviaharris@mac.com 07881 810 878

THOUSANDS of football fans were left bitterly disappointed after when soccer star Lionel Messi failed to turn up to a planned appearance in Stepney yesterday.

Crowds of teenagers and young men thronged around Trafalgar Gardens, off White Horse Lane yesterday (Wednesday) evening and waited for hours to catch a glimpse of their hero but the Argentinian international failed to show.

The Barcelona winger was due to play a five-side-game against East End teenagers at the small, caged football pitch as part of a promotional tour of east London, organised by adidas.

Messi, 23, had earlier flown into Hackney Marshes by helicopter and was due to play a match there against local youths. But, after arriving more than an hour late, he was mobbed by fans almost as soon as he landed and was bundled into a waiting car by security guards who whisked him off to his next appearance at a boot giveaway in Brick Lane.

Fans had been waiting patiently at Trafalgar Gardens for the star to arrive and amateur players had even been selected to play with Fifa World Footballer of the Year Messi.

But the crowd started jeering and booing when it was announced the star would be a no show and onlookers threw plastic bottles onto the pitch. Police moved in quickly to ensure disturbances were minimised.

An adidas spokesperson said: “We had planned for Messi to play in a five-a-side game in Tower Hamlets.

“Unfortunately, time and safety pressures made this impossible to complete. adidas would like to apologise to all those loyal fans who turned out but did not get to see Messi.”

Were you waiting to see Messi play? Had you been selected to play with him? Contact us with your stories, pictures and videos.

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