Video: Ex-Northwestern U. player steals show at 'Messi & Friends' with exquisite overhead kick

Posted by Chris Wright

After the Los Angeles leg of the "Messi and Friends" tour was cancelled 24 hours before it was due to kick off Wednesday, Lionel Messi's charity bandwagon culminated in Chicago Saturday night live on ESPN as planned, though the game at Soldier Field went ahead despite a raft of player cancellations.

The likes of David Luiz, Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Aguero, Robert Lewandowski, Jordi Alba, and Edinson Cavani all pulled out beforehand, reducing the original roster of 36 high-profile players down to just 13 with the gaps in the squads being plugged by local amateur and college players -- one of whom, former Northwestern striker Matt Eliason -- made it his duty to ensure that the estimated 25,000 in attendance didn't leave feeling shortchanged.

With just half-an-hour gone, the three-time All-Big Ten selection, playing on the "World XI" side alongside Thierry Henry and Florent Malouda, latched onto Henry's chipped pass into the box and executed an absolutely perfect overhead kick with just 30 minutes gone...

Glorious! Eliason's exquisite volley was featured on SportsCenter's "Top 10" as Saturday's No. 1 top play and is poised to go viral, with the man himself telling ESPN after the game:

“Once the ball was in the air, I thought I might as well go for it in front of all these fans. It’s not every day that you get to play Messi," said Eliason, Northwestern's all-time career leader in goals (33) and points (82). "So I thought I’d give it a try, and fortunately it worked out. It’s just amazing to be on the same field as him.”

Sadly, Matt didn't finish up on the winning side, with Messi's XI racking up a 9-6 win (replay available on ESPN3), though he did end the evening with the kind of anecdote that'll ensure he never has to buy his own beer in the greater Chicago area ever again!

Well played sir, well played indeed.

ESPN Conversations