A 28-year-old agricultural engineer held captive for three days in Nigeria claims mentioning his famous compatriot’s name calmed his violent aggressors.
Santiago Lopez Menendez had been working in the country since last year, planting soya and corn crops close to Kontagora in the north-west of the country.
But he was kidnapped earlier this week and beaten violently by his captors, who hardly spoke any English and thought he was north American.
It was then in desperation that Menendez tried to tell them he was Argentine and he was eventually able to calm down his aggressors with repeated cries of “Messi, Messi, Messi”.
Held captive for three days, the engineer was eventually released after the company who employs him paid an undisclosed ransom to the kidnappers.
Back in Argentina, his brother Jorge spoke to Clarin and said: “‘Tell them I am grateful to Messi’, he told me. ‘Naming him is what saved me.'”
Menendez is now safe and will return to his homeland in the next few hours.