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Why Lionel Messi's visit to Gillette Stadium is a must-see for New England soccer and sports fans

Lionel Messi's visit to Gillette Stadium a must-see for any sports fan
Lionel Messi's visit to Gillette Stadium a must-see for any sports fan 08:24

FOXBORO -- The New England Revolution could really use a boost this season, bringing a 1-6-1 record into Saturday's match against Inter Miami CF. There will be a massive crowd on hand for that tilt, but unfortunately for the Revs, most won't be out to see them hit the pitch.

That honor goes to Lionel Messi, the greatest soccer player on the planet at the moment. "Messi Madness" is set to fully engulf Foxboro this weekend with a crowd of 65,000 expected to head to Gillette Stadium for their chance to see soccer royalty.

Despite some trepidation to play on turf fields, Messi is expected to play Saturday night at Gillette. And when Messi plays, he puts on a show -- one that local soccer fans have likely never seen before.

Just ask Taylor Twellman, who used to put on dazzling performances of his own over his 8-year career in a Revs kit. Now a soccer analyst for Apple TV -- where fans can see Saturday's Revs-Inter Miami showdown -- Twellman says that Messi's trip to Foxboro is a must-see not just for soccer fans, but sports fans everywhere. 

"It's unlike anything I've ever seen, and I took my girls to Taylor Swift concert at Gillette Stadium," Twellman joked during a chat with WBZ-TV's Dan Roche. "I was blown away by the Swifties and the culture, and the cult by which that it is."

Swift's three-day visit to Gillette Stadium last summer took over New England for an entire weekend. Twellman says that Messi's visit is like that, if you times it by 1,000. (Memo to the Swifties out there: Please go easy on Taylor.)

"Whether you're rich or poor, Black or white, yellow or green -- he is him, that guy," Twellman said of Messi. "And he is here to beat your brains in."

Yeah, Messi is a big deal, and he has brought his killer mentality to every match during his MLS career. While many international stars come stateside to close out their playing days, Messi isn't doing that. He has a burning desire to win on this stage.

In that sense, and many others, Twellman compares Messi to someone very near and dear to the hearts of New Englanders: Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr.

"For all of our New England sports fans, he has the same mentality as Tom Brady. Whether he's 32, 36, 24, or 58, he is going to try to beat your brains in. And that is where the real pleasure in this is for me; he's not here on a retirement tour. He is here to win and stay and to go out with a bang. He wants to win an MLS Cup doing it," said Twellman.

But Twellman puts Messi above Brady, which is where he likely loses a lot of New Englanders. 

"There are four athletes in my lifetime who saw the line of expectation and the occasion, and they outdo it every time. Those are Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Lionel Messi," explained Twellman. "What I'm talking about is the expectation and delivering. Tom Brady wasn't expected to do this from Day 1. Lionel Messi was. Tiger Woods was. Michael Jordan was. Ali was."

But very much like Brady, whenever he's got the ball, you want to keep your eyes on Messi.

"Saturday may be the only time you get to see it, but I promise you he'll do one thing you've never seen before," said Twellman. "He'll do one thing that leaves you saying 'Oh my God, I just saw it!' And then 20, 30, 40 years down the road -- like my father did with Pelé [when he played for the New York Cosmos] -- I'll be talking about Messi."

Twellman also shares his thoughts on the struggles of the New England Revolution and how they can right the ship under new head coach Caleb Porter. Check out his full chat with Dan Roche in the video above.

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