An 11-year-old English boy has enjoyed the experience of a lifetime after playing beach football with Lionel Messi.
Mackenzie O’Neill was on holiday with his family in Antigua when a man he believed was the superstar’s father Jorge asked him if he would like to play.
Mackenzie, who plays in goal for Faversham Strike Force FC, said they played a “full-on match” with “rush goalies” on the sand, with Messi and his son, Thiago, on one team.
“He was a really nice guy,” Mackenzie said of Messi. “He looked happy to see me playing with his son and some other boys.
“He doesn’t act like he owns the place, he just acts like what anyone else would act like.”
His mother, Anna O’Neill, from Canterbury, Kent, said: “It was such a sweet experience. They’re just a very normal family.
“I know it’s terrible but I just thought, ‘oh here we go, another footballer’, but a million per cent he’s just interested in his family and it was really humbling. What a lovely thing for this guy to do – he’s on a family vacation.”
Ms O’Neill, 41, said she had been looking after her 14-month-old toddler in her room at a private Caribbean resort when Mackenzie rushed in and said: “Oh my god, mum, Messi is on the beach”.
His mother, who is not a football fan, said: “I was just like, who?”
After messaging her brother and googling Messi’s name, she went to the beach to see the Argentinian with her son and the other children, where they had been playing for around half an hour.
The footballer could not have been more kind, she said.
“You can see he’s very much in love with his wife – it’s glorious to see. His wife is a very warm person and Messi definitely seemed confident and happy for Mackenzie to be hanging around with his family.
“As they left on their final day, Messi and his wife gave really lovely waves saying, ‘bye Mackenzie, bye’ and we all said thank you so much and cheerio.”
Mackenzie added Messi, considered by many to be one of the greatest players in football history, is his favourite outfield player, but that he prefers goalkeepers.
Libya summit: World leaders gather in Berlin in bid to resolve escalating civil war | World News
Boris Johnson will join other world leaders – including Russia’s Vladimir Putin – at a summit in Berlin on Sunday aimed at trying to resolve an escalating civil war in Libya.
The rival heads of the two sides fighting for control of the North African state are due to attend the long-awaited gathering.
They are respectively backed by different foreign powers in a conflict that risks turning Libya into the latest proxy warzone after Syria.
Before the talks even began, rebel forces blocked oil exports from Libya’s main ports, ramping up pressure on the internationally-recognised government of Prime Minister Fayez al Sarraj.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is hosting the meeting, hopes to convince the warring factions, with the help of the United Nations, to agree on a lasting ceasefire.
This could include the deployment of the UN-backed peacekeeping force to oversee the implementation of any enduring truce.
But diplomats are not expecting a significant breakthrough this weekend.
The dialogue in Berlin is seen as the start of a process to try to resolve the past nine months of increasingly dangerous conflict.
A US official travelling with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who will be present, said: “I think it’s so complex and the heels are so far dug in that I would have moderate expectations as we go into this.”
Libya has been consumed by conflict and instability since the ousting of Colonel Muamar Gaddafi in an uprising in 2011 that was supported by Britain, France and the US.
Since last April, fighting has spiked again between forces loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA) that supports would-be strongman Khalifa Haftar, a former Libyan general.
The UN-recognised government is being variously supported diplomatically, financially and militarily by Turkey, Qatar and Italy.
On the other side, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and France are helping Mr Haftar.
The violence over the past few months has left thousands of people dead or injured and forced some 140,000 civilians to flee their homes, raising the possibility of a new wave of migration across the Mediterranean to Europe.
It is also creating a security vacuum into which extremist groups are able to flourish.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan used this threat to warn European allies of what he viewed as the danger of not backing the Tripoli government.
He said the European Union’s failure to adequately support Prime Minister al Sarraj would be “a betrayal of its own core values, including democracy and human rights”.
“Europe will encounter a fresh set of problems and threats if Libya’s legitimate government were to fall,” President Erdogan wrote in an article for the Politico website.
“Terrorist organisations such as ISIS and al Qaeda, which suffered a military defeat in Syria and Iraq, will find a fertile ground to get back on their feet.”
In a joint initiative, Turkey and Russia have brokered a ceasefire but Mr Haftar walked away from talks in Moscow this week aimed at finalising the truce agreement.
A furious President Erdogan has accused him of fleeing and said he would “teach (him) a lesson” if he resumed fighting.
World powers are trying to mediate a lasting ceasefire at the international conference in Berlin, which President Erdogan will attend. Other leaders present include President Emmanuel Macron of France.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at a press briefing on Friday: “We hope what comes out of Berlin is renewed demonstration of international unity in supporting the intra-Libyan political process, ending foreign interference, leading to full respect of the UN arms embargo.”
The conference will aim to agree six points – including a permanent ceasefire, implementation of a much-violated UN arms embargo and a return to political efforts for peace.
Tribesmen allied to Mr Haftar imposed the oil export blockades from Friday at the eastern ports of Brega, Ras Lanuf, Hariga, Zuitina and Es Sider.
The move is reportedly in protest at a decision by Turkey to send troops to Libya to shore up Prime Minister al Sarraj.
While the focus of the day will be on Libya, the meeting will provide the first opportunity for Mr Johnson as prime minister to sit round a table with Russia’s President Putin.
It is not yet known whether the two men will hold any bilateral talks.
Relations between London and Moscow are at a post-Cold War low in the wake of the attempted assassination of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Salisbury.
A failure by Mr Johnson to allow the release of a parliamentary report ahead of last month’s election into alleged Russian meddling in in the UK caused an outcry.
US Space Force mocked over new camouflage uniform | US News
The US Space Force has been mocked after proudly unveiling its new uniforms – featuring full woodland camouflage.
It posted an image of the gear on Twitter saying: “Space Force propels the @DeptofDefence into a new era dedicated to protecting US and national interests and security in space.”
However, the reaction to the new outfit has been less than complimentary – with most pointing out the design will not help troops blend in during space missions.
One person tweeted: “How many trees are you expecting to find in space?”
Another pointed out: “Space is black… I feel like this is an important distinction when designing a uniform.”
One Twitter critic suggested the president could learn a few things from Star Wars, pointing out: “The only explanation I have is that The #SpaceForce will be invading the forest moon of Endor.
“I doubt the US has learned that an occupying military has little chance of conquering the Ewoks.”
Following the vitriol directed at it, the United States Space Force posted a further statement, adding: “USSF is utilizing current Army/Air Force uniforms, saving costs of designing/producing a new one.”
Donald Trump launched the force last month, claiming “space is the world’s new war-fighting domain” as he signed off the $1.4trn (£1.08trn) National Defence Authorisation Act.
It is part of a package that also provides money for a US-Mexico border wall.
40-stone Islamic State leader Abu Abdul Bari arrested in Iraq and taken away in truck because he was too heavy for car | World News
A 40-stone Islamic State terrorist has been arrested in Iraq by a SWAT team, security officials have said.
Abu Abdul Bari, also known as Shifa al-Nima, was taken away on the back of a truck after his arrest in Mosul as the extremist, who weighs an estimated 40-stone (254kg), could not be transported in a car.
Pictures of Bari, who Iraqi police consider to be one of IS’s senior figures, on the vehicle wedged against a mounted machine gun have appeared online. He is also pictured at home.
It is unclear how he was removed from his hiding place.
Bari is an IS mufti, or expert in religious law, who issued fatwas that led to the deaths of scholars and clerics who refused to pledge allegiance to the terrorist group when it occupied the city, officials said.
During the group’s self-styled caliphate in 2014, he ordered the destruction of a mosque built at the site believed to be the burial place of the biblical prophet Jonah, who once had a notable encounter with a whale.
The Iraqi government’s security services announced the arrest in a statement, is has been reported.
The statement said the preacher, considered one of the top leaders of “IS gangs”, was known for “provocative speeches against the security forces”, the independent US military news outlet Stars and Stripes added.
Maajid Nawaz, founder of the London-based anti-extremism think Quilliam, said on Facebook that Bari “had to be taken by police in the back of a pick-up truck”.
Latest News2 days ago
Paddy Holohan: Ex-MMA fighter and Sinn Fein councillor apologises for Leo Varadkar remarks | World News
Politics1 week ago
House passes measure seeking to limit Trump’s military actions against Iran
Politics1 week ago
Democrats slam Trump on Puerto Rico, demand swift response to earthquake
World1 week ago
Trump announces changes to environmental protection law
Politics1 week ago
Pelosi: I'll send articles of impeachment to the Senate 'when I'm ready'
Latest News1 week ago
<a href='https://news.sky.com/story/scorched-earth-how-the-australia-fires-compare-to-us-and-brazil-11904192'>Revealed: The true scale of the Australia fires</a>
World1 week ago
Zuckerberg expects ‘breakthrough augmented reality glasses’ this decade
Latest News1 week ago
‘Gay Jesus’ Netflix film ban overturned by Brazil’s supreme court | Ents & Arts News