UNEARTHED video shows Lionel Messi getting pally with Salt Bae years before his attention-seeking World Cup final stunt.
The celebrity chef was slammed for pestering Argentina's talisman for a selfie on the pitch in an embarrassing display following Sunday's nailbiting shootout.
The Turkish cook and Instagram star – real name Nusret Gökçe -was filmed grabbing Messi by the shoulder at least twice.
Messi tried to shrug him off before finally agreeing to pose for a picture.
However it was not the first time they had met.
Video shows Messi eating at Gökçe's Dubai steakhouse with his wife Antonela Roccuzzo and a pal in November 2018.
Barcelona forward Leo gives the chef a hug and shakes his hand as his table gets the full VIP treatment.
After theatrically slicing their steak, Salt Bae invites Messi to sprinkle salt over it.
Then other diners cheer and clap as the chef feeds a slice of meat into Messi's mouth using the tip of his knife.
The world's greatest player appears delighted by the encounter, which Salt Bae posted on Instagram.
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He also grinned while posing for a picture with Gökçe and former Man Utd midfielder Paul Pogba, who dined there the same night.
At the time the two stars were on a break from international duty.
Another video showed them deep in conversation – sparking transfer speculation as Pogba urged Messi: "We have to play together".
Gökçe has posted selfies with scores of footballers and other celebrities and has forged a friendship with Fifa boss Gianni Infantino.
Today the world governing body was facing questions over why the celebrity chef was allowed on the pitch following embarrassing scenes at the showpiece final.
As well as badgering Messi, he was filmed muscling in on the Argentina squad's celebrations and snatching the trophy from one winner's baby.
Gökçe also pretended to do his trademark salt-sprinkling trick over the £17million gold trophy as irritated players stood by.
And boastful pics on his Insta page showed his kissing the trophy and holding it aloft like a champion.
The disgraceful spectacle reportedly broke Fifa's rules, which say only former winners and heads of state can handle it.
BBC host Gary Lineker shared footage of his attention seeking antics, saying: "He's such a pest."
And former FA chairman Greg Dyke said: “I don’t think Fifa and Infantino have come out of this very well.”
Fifa has reportedly refused to say if Salt Bae was granted access to the pitch.
It did not respond to The Sun Online's request for comment.
If he was given “access all areas” accreditation, that would open the governing body to allegations of cronyism or special treatment for Infantino’s friends, reports The Times.
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Other VIP guests at the final included Twitter billionaire Elon Musk and Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner.
And French president Emmanuel Macron was slated for his embarrassing attempts to console losing hattrick hero Kylian Mbappe.
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