Many would argue that Lionel Messi is superhuman when he has a ball at his feet — so it is only appropriate that he has been immortalised as a comic book hero by a Cork artist.

Ballycotton native Will Sliney, the artist behind comic giant Marvel’s successful Spider-Man 2099 series, has revealed that the Argentinian legend is the latest icon to inspire some comic cover artwork.

Now Sliney has described how the Barcelona forward has been presented with the drawing, and how the presentation came about.

Irish film director, Gary Shore — who was at the helm of the 2014 movie Dracula Untold, and made the TV ads featuring model Kate Upton for Game of War — recently directed Messi for promotional work for phone company Huawei.

“Gary got on to me and asked if I would do a drawing for Messi,” Sliney explained.

The shoot was in Barcelona, meaning that Sliney did not get to present the gift himself, but shipped it to Shore who framed the gift and passed it on.

“Gary only had a certain amount of time with Messi himself, but he gave it to him and he seemed really happy with it,” Sliney said.

Messi is not the first footballer to have been drawn by Sliney. The artist’s mural of iconic Irish players graced Cork’s Grand Parade for months, and the artist is a regular contributor to his beloved Everton’s matchday programmes and other promotional work.

As for the day job, Sliney is committed to further issues of Spider-Man 2099, with Marvel set to continue the series as it is, despite plans to relaunch a host of its popular titles this autumn.

“I’m still working on Spider-Man 2099, it is one of the few Marvel books that is keeping the same creative team,” Sliney said of his partnership with writer Peter David. “Marvel has just published the fourth volume of collected issues of it, and we are signed up to continue doing it through to issue 21 at least, so it’s going very, very well,” he said.

Will posted this photo on Twitter of football legend Lionel Messi, who said he was delighted with the framed drawing. An avid football fan, Will produces work for the team he follows, Everton.

Meanwhile Messi has been named as part of the Barcelona squad to take part in a friendly match against Celtic in Dublin on Saturday.

Despite announcing a squad shorn of big names such as Neymar, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Javier Mascherano and Jordi Alba, the Catalan giants confirmed that Messi will be in the 25-man squad travelling to Lansdowne Road this weekend.

Celtic also play Inter Milan in another friendly in Thomond Park, Limerick, on August 13.


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