Meet the young American who graced the World Cup final… Lionel Messi’s mascot

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On Sunday there was one American on the pitch at the Maracana Stadium in Rio di Janeiro for the 2014 World Cup final.

Lionel Messi’s mascot.

That’s right, as the Argentine captain led his team out for the biggest game of his career, the four-time World Player of the Year was holding the hand of a Richmond, Va. native, eight-year-old Kaylie-Jade Plott.

[ RELATED: Messi wins Golden Ball ]

Plott was picked at random as the only American child to be one of the player mascots in the final, and was handed a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Below are pictures of Kaylie-Jade, sent along by the company who organized the trip in conjunction with McDonald’s USA and U.S. Soccer as 26 young American kids were player mascots at the World Cup

The American youngster retells her experience of standing side-by-side in the tunnel at the Maracana with Messi, then walking out into the World Cup final with one of the greatest players the planet has ever seen. Plott and her mother, Jamie Williams, revealed plenty about the electric atmosphere inside the stadium, plus their sadness that Messi and Argentina couldn’t pull out the win.

Below, in her own words, the young American describes how the moment she realized Messi would walk her out onto the pitch. Take it away, Kaylie-Jade.

Let’s hope sooner rather than later (hopefully Russia 2018) many more Americans can repeat your feat of being involved in a World Cup final!

I was waiting in the tunnel and kept looking around to see when the Argentina team was coming in, which was so exciting. I knew I was walking out with them, but didn’t know I got him [Messi]. And then he was there, standing next to me but I still didn’t know he was my player…the one I would walk with out of the tunnel. It wasn’t until he looked over at me and then I realized “Oh my goodness, it’s Messi!” I knew he was one of the biggest soccer players in the world because of the magazines. Before we walked out, he was quiet but he smiled at me and even helped me on the field by turning me the right way, which was really cool!”

PHOTO GALLERY

Kaylie-Jade finds out in the tunnel that she will be walking out with Messi…

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Plott waiting in the tunnel with Messi as both teams heads out…

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The Argentine and American duo walk down the tunnel…

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Plott enters the famous Maracana stadium alongside Messi for the World Cup final…

source: Getty Images

Both teams stand for the national anthems…

source: Getty Images

Messi and Plott standing together in the Maracana…

source: Getty Images

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

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Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

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Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.

West Ham signs club record center back from Toulouse

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West Ham has reportedly set a club record with its latest signing under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Issa Diop is the player, the 21-year-old Toulouse captain and center back costing the Irons around $29 million.

[ MORE: Arsenal signs Leno ]

Diop scored three goals with an assist and eight yellow cards in 31 Ligue 1 matches this season, giving the young defender 95 apps, six goals, three assists, and 23 yellows since debuting with the senior team at 18.

Capped by France at every level below the senior team, Diop’s 2.2 interceptions per game ranked sixth in Ligue 1.

Toulose finished 18th in Ligue 1, but won its promotion/relegation playoff to stay in the French top flight.

From WHUFC.com:

“I am very happy to sign for such a historic, English club, and I hope to show my best here. I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we’ve seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy.”

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 3

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In the third episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England pulls out a massive win while VAR finds its way into the World Cup spotlight.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.

Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.