This week's INM Irish regional newspapers' column
It was the bleached hair that confused me, especially since I was so far away from him.
I have now seen the genius with my own eyes, spending 45 minutes observing every move he made and it was simply fascinating to behold.
I know nothing about soccer. I watch the occasional game. During the Euros I watched the Irish and German games and enjoyed the experience.
Some weeks ago a friend offered me a ticket to the Barcelona Celtic game at the Aviva Stadium.
A few days before the game a cousin assured me that it would be a third team Barcelona squad that would be playing. So to my surprise from way up in the Aviva stand, to be precise, Row U Seat 28, I spotted the number 10 shirt. The hair had changed colour but I quickly realised that Lionel Messi was out on the park.
Everything about the man seems to be drenched in genius. Maybe at times he wandered about as if he were bored. Every time he had the ball he did something magical with it and he made one of the Barcelona goals. His timing, his speed, his reading of the game was breathtaking. It all seemed to be done in such a casual manner. Anytime I have seen Usain Bolt run he reminds me of someone out for a stroll. He does it all with such ease. The same with Messi.
Geniuses turn up in all sports, all disciplines. Great writers and musicians give us a hint of their genius and anytime we come across it we are bowled over by its brilliance.
If Einstein did say that greatness is one per cent genius and 99 per cent hard work, dare I disagree with him. Maybe he was being humble about his own genius. No doubt even the greatest of geniuses have to work on their ability.
Even Messi has to train and hone his talent but once that talent is let loose it is simply magnificent to see it.
Geniuses stand out from the rest of us and it's simply great to see them in action.
Watching Messi last Saturday week it dawned on me, maybe for the first time, why people get so excited about sport, especially young people. A young person who plays a lot of football and is good at it, watching Messi must somewhere in his head be saying to himself that maybe some day he could be as good as the Barcelona striker. I know a five-year-old girl who scored her first goal last month.
She's still talking to her mother about it. Good for her. Or the young 12-year-old who was off last week playing soccer for Kerry in Galway. He has his sights on the future. Maybe some day on the Kerry team playing in an All-Ireland in Croke Park.
Don't we all dream of being great at something or other, whether it's that unwritten book we plan or the music we aspire to play?
At the Democratic convention in Philadelphia President Barack Obama spoke of the audacity of hope.
When hope dies in us we are the poorer for it. For most of us our sights will never be in the Messi range but that does not mean we cannot aspire to achieving our own personal goals.
They can be as small as a short walk every day. Making a decision to drink less alcohol, eat less chocolate.
Whatever it is, it's important to have goals to which we can strive. It's good for us and might even make the world a better place.