Football: Auckland City coach honoured with gift from Lionel Messi

A former Auckland City goalkeeper has been surprised with a special gift from one of the world's greatest footballers. 

Spaniard Enaut Zubikarai received a personalised bottle of beer from Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

The gift was one of 644 sent out to goalkeepers across the world by American brewery Budweiser to mark the occasion of Messi breaking Pele's goal scoring record for a single club.

Zubikarai was among the 120-odd goalkeepers to have conceded a goal to the Argentine genius, when playing for Spanish club Real Sociedad against Barcelona in 2014.

The now-36-year-old played for Real Sociedad for eight years, primarily as back-up for Claudio Bravo, during which time he made over 50 appearances for the club.

He had a short spell in the Portuguese top flight with Tondela, before signing for Auckland City FC in 2016.

Now a coach with Auckland City, Zubikarai was presented with the bottle No.335 at a training session last week.

"It is a very funny situation, if you think about it," he tells the club's website.

“I am a very long way away from my professional career in Spain, but this brings back many memories.

"Our team manager Keith Coton brought the box to training, and today I have opened it and it is incredible."

Some keepers received a large haul of bottles, with former Athletic Bilbao star Gorka Iraizoz getting 18, and Iker Casillas and Anders Fernandez getting 17 each.

"Messi, of course, is a sensational football player - arguably the best of a generation and congratulations to him for his new record," he adds.

"For me, the special aspect is that this helps put Auckland City FC in the spotlight, which to me is special."