Argentina Fan Sports Lionel Messi ‘Topo Gigio' Celebration Tattoo


The Argentinian national team and its fans aren’t going to let the Netherlands forget the 2022 World Cup quarterfinals anytime soon.

Lionel Messi and Argentina clinched a semifinal berth after beating the Dutch in a penalty shootout at Lusail Iconic Stadium on Friday. The win was big in keeping Argentina’s World Cup hopes alive, and the players seemed particularly satisfied with getting the victory over the Oranje.

Dutch coach Louis van Gaal was at the center of Argentina’s victory celebration on the pitch and jeers from Argentinian supporters. One fan even showed off some new ink commemorating the victory at Van Gaal’s expense:

There’s obviously a lot going on here, so let’s rewind a bit and delve into the Argentina-Netherlands beef.

What did Louis van Gaal say?

Heading into the quarterfinals match, Van Gaal knocked Messi for his defense. It’s a similar criticism Van Gaal had of another player, which we will get to shortly.

Van Gaal also apparently had a strong view on how the Netherlands would fare if the quarterfinals match reached a penalty shootout. Argentina beat the Netherlands in a penalty shootout during the 2014 World Cup semifinals, and the Albicelestes prevailed once again in 2022.

“I heard Van Gaal saying ‘We’ve got an advantage on penalties, if we go to penalties we win,’” Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez said after the match. “I think he needs to keep his mouth shut.”

What did Lionel Messi say to Louis van Gaal?

Messi said after Friday’s victory that Van Gaal “disrespected” him before the match. He also said the Dutch players added to Argentina’s emphatic celebration.

“I feel disrespected by Van Gaal after his pregame comments and some Dutch players spoke too much during the game,” Messi said.

Messi assisted on Argentina’s first goal and scored from the penalty spot to give his side a 2-0 lead in the 73rd minute. Messi celebrated his goal with his teammates before jogging over to the Dutch bench, jumping up and cupping his hands behind his ears.

He also exchanged words with Van Gaal and other members of the Netherlands’ coaching staff, but it was his goal celebration that became the enduring moment from the victory.

What is Topo Gigio? 

Messi’s celebration was a callback to a former soccer star and an Italian puppet.

Juan Román Riquelme played 51 caps for Argentina from 1997 to 2008 while putting together an accomplished club career. Riquelme popularized a celebration that paid homage to “Topo Gigio,” the title character of an Italian TV show from the 1960s featuring puppets.

Like Messi, Riquelme’s club career featured a stint at FC Barcelona – where he played under Van Gaal. Riquelme played at the club from 2002 to 2005, while Van Gaal had separate stints from 1997 to 2000 and 2002 to 2003.

Riquelme was meant to replace Rivaldo, who had a fallout with Van Gaal that led to his exit. Van Gaal proceeded to call Riquelme a “political signing” and played him out of position. The 2002-03 campaign was a disaster for the club, leading to the firing of Van Gaal midseason.

Ten months after Van Gaal was sacked, Messi made his first team debut with Barcelona. The rest is history, and now part of that history is immortalized in the form of a tattoo.

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