An Egyptian painter has reportedly found an unlikely fan base in the North African nation – Barcelona football supporters, especially those who love star player Lionel Messi.

This is because 27-year-old Islam Mohammed Ibrahim Battah looks remarkably like the 33-year-old Argentine forward, considered the best footballer in the world.

Egypt’s Messi lookalike 'becomes celebrity'
The real Messi extended his tally as Barca’s record goalscorer to 663 goals in all competitions on Sunday

“When I started growing my beard, my friends told me that I look like Messi. When I grew my beard even more, the resemblance was clearer,” he told the Reuters news agency.

Egypt’s Messi lookalike 'becomes celebrity'
Battah doing his regular job in Zagazig

On a visit to an orphanage in Zagazig, a city about 90km (55 miles) north of the capital, Cairo, the children were delighted, the agency reports.

Wearing a Barcelona shirt, Battah played football with the children at a local training facility, Reuters says.

Egypt’s Messi lookalike 'becomes celebrity'
Battah in Barca gear looking ready to score

“The kids’ happiness with the resemblance between me and Messi is indescribable,” he is quoted as saying.

“When you make someone happy, God rewards you. I wanted to share this happiness with them.”