I semi-ticked another of the bucket list recently when, on a family holiday in Spain, I was given the green light to finally go to the Nou Camp and watch Messi and his fellow tiki takas take on the Arsenal in the Joan Gamper trophy. Despite sounding like a delicatessen owner, Mr Gamper founded the Barca machine before suffering money woes and ultimately committing suicide in 1930.

We talk of living gods, of deities, and the number is short, the only one that springs to my mind is the Dalai Lama. To that curtailed list we can now arguably add the name of Lionel Messi. Now, I’m no Alan Whicker or Michael Palin, but I have travelled my fair share, yet never have I encountered the blanket coverage and esteem a single human enjoys as I did for Mr Messi. Every town, village and backstreet we visited in our rickety hire car was met with his image: On posters, towels, keyrings, TV, umbrellas and most impressively, walking sticks. The man could no doubt stand for any political office he desired and win by a landslide, as he is feverishly revered and worshipped in equal measure.

In preparation for the game, I baulked at the £120 cost of a legit new jersey and instead bought one of the numerous hooky ones from a roadside vendor after haggling the price down from 50 to 20 ‘Euro’. After being critical of the lack of manners afforded to us by the native Catalans up until that point, the jersey seemingly had magical powers. Suddenly I was seen as a disciple, with strangers coming up and uttering words such as ‘Barca!’ and ‘Messi!’. Short lived conversations maybe, but his very name sprinkles some stardust on portly balding Englishmen struggling with the dual threats of sunburn and mastering the native tongue.

En route to the game there were literally thousands of panhandlers with shirts laid out on the street, all bearing the name of one man, with a few sprinkles of the new signing, Griezmann. This was not simple hero worship, this was fervour, and I wondered how he ever manages to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, such as popping into the local Mercadona supermarket for a pack of lightbulbs and some ham without getting ripped limb from limb.

The ground is quite simply the best stadium I have ever visited. I have been fortunate to attend the stadia of many of the big teams, including the San Siro, Old Trafford and Underhill, but this was jaw dropping and mesmerising in equal measure, packed with 100,000 fans, 95,000 of whom had Lionel’s name emblazoned across their backs. The player presentations took place before Captain fantastic was handed a microphone to address the crowd. I was listening intently to every word, despite not having a clue what he was banging on about and each sentence was punctuated by huge roars as makeshift full stops. It reminded me of the Rocky 2 ‘Yo, Adrian, we did it!’ speech, but in place of Eye of the Tiger, the speakers blared out Sweet Child of Mine.

‘Arsenal looked tasty’ is not a sentence Gooners would have read for many a year, but it is true, and they were unfortunate to not emerge victorious. Suarez managed to take a break from orally devouring opponents to snatch a last-minute winner and we made our way back to our digs with huge smiles on our faces.

But then I remembered the reason for the trip: it was to tick one off the bucket list, to finally see the man who has, against the odds, dethroned Pele as the greatest footballer to ever tie up his laces - Lionel Messi. Despite deafening demands from those gathered in the congregation, he remained on the bench for the duration, citing tiredness after arriving the previous day on a private jet from Argentina. All of which leaves me in a quandary: I saw Messi in his Mecca, his spiritual home, but I did not see him kick a ball and play, so I guess it's half a bucket list tick. Still, the situation gives me ample reason, as I was given a pass, to watch the great man do what he does best, so I plan to go out again this season and worship at the altar of a diminutive figure who, at 5’7 stands as a living god amongst mere mortals.