Many call Lionel Messi the GOAT – the Greatest of All Time – and one magazine has paid homage to that notion by doing a photoshoot with the Argentina star featuring a herd of real goats ahead of the World Cup in Russia.
Argentina captain Messi, who will be his nations talisman this summer in Russia, posed with the animals in a photo session for US-based magazine Paper.
Messi is seen pictured alongside a kid goat and fully-gown adults, in an article in which he discusses his love of animals as well as footballing themes.
"I am a big fan of animals," the 30-year-old told the New York-based magazine. "I grew up with them and they have taught me many things. Now we have our dog Hulk who really is part of the family, we always include him. Our children learn so much from Hulk: The love shown between him and the kids and the kids and him is constant."
Messis GOAT status comes across in his apparent ease with the animals, and he is seen holding a young goat while dressed in the famous white and light blue stripes of his Argentina No. 10 jersey.
Footage from the photoshoot, which took place at La Granja Natura, a Barcelona farm and educational centre, shows Messi doing keep-ups and dribbling between a herd of the animals. An adult goat is also seen with the Barcelona strikers signature Adidas boots draped around its neck.
The player himself shrugged off the GOAT theme, however, telling the magazine with characteristic humility: "I don't consider myself the best, I think I am just another player. On the field, we are all the same when the game begins."
Messi also discussed his hopes for this summers World Cup in Russia, where Argentina will be looking to reverse the heartache they suffered four years ago in Brazil, when they lost in the final to Germany in extra-time.
"We still have to make ourselves stronger as a team to be in the running to win and be at the same level as other teams like France, Germany, Brazil or Spain,” the five-time world player of the year said.
“But we have a good group of players and the Argentine team is always going to be a candidate to win, it doesn't matter how we get there. We always aim to win and we will try to go slowly but strongly to advance in the competition."