Lionel Messi

At the start of the second half of Argentina's 4-0 Copa America semifinal rout of the U.S. Tuesday night, a fan ran onto the field. Racing across the turf of Houston's NRG Stadium, the fan, wearing a Lionel Messi jersey, handed the Argentina star a marker.

Surprisingly, Messi went ahead and signed the jersey, while the fan bowed down to him. Messi, who netted a filthy free kick in the first half, even handed the marker back before the fan sprinted away, only to be caught by security.


Lionel Messi Pen

Lionel Messi Bow

Lionel Messi Signature

Lionel Messi Hug

The fan actually wrote his Twitter on his body, @sotom096. His name is Michael Soto and he is from Lake Elsinore, California. He previewed his pitch invasion on social media.







An acquaintance of Soto shot the invasion on Soto's Periscope:


Messi was mostly unfazed by the whole incident. "I was not scared about it," Argentina manager Tata Martino said, per ESPN FC. "I was impressed with how Leo took a minute, grabbed a marker and signed an autograph for the kid."

In the U.S., athletes sometimes help in police efforts to quell trespassers. But this looked more Hank Aaron than Rick Monday.

For Messi, fans bowing down to him on the field is nothing new. A fan in a Barcelona Messi jersey charged the pitch in the June 10 Argentina-Panama match in Chicago just to give Messi a hug. Messi barely flinched and obliged the hug.

Lionel Messi Pitch Invader

Lionel Messi Fan Hug

There are a handful of videos and images on the Internet showing similar incidents with Messi. Here is a compilation from October 2014:

Remember, Cristiano Ronaldo took a selfie with an invading fan last week.

It may not be what we are used to in the U.S., but for these mega-soccer players, fans bombarding them on the field of play is common. And at this point, their instinct is not to fear, but to engage.

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Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.