When chocolatiers in Moscow found out Lionel Messi would be celebrating his birthday during the World Cup - they decided he need a present that measured up.

So a team of five workers from the Russian capital's Altufyevo Confectionary Shop spent nearly a week making a life-size chocolate sculpture of the striker.

Mounted on a green pitch birthday cake the Messi masterpiece weighs 132lb (60kg) and marked his 31st birthday yesterday. 

'We found out by chance that it was Messi's birthday on June 24,' said chief confectioner Daria Malkina. 'And we thought, 'why not make Leo a gift, a chocolate sculpture of himself'?'

Malkina said she had been in touch with Messi's representatives about handing him the sculpture.

'We will give Lionel Messi to Lionel Messi,' Malkina said, laughing.

In the meantime it will be put on display in Bronnitsy, a town 30 miles from Moscow where Argentina are based for the month-long tournament.

Messi might need cheering up, having been criticised for his tepid performances during the World Cup with Argentina facing the prospect of exiting the tournament early unless remaining Group D results go their way.