IT IS a World Cup that has had many glued to their television screens – and none more so than kitten Lionel.

The furry feline, who has been named after one of the biggest stars of the Brazil tournament, has developed a fascination with the beautiful game.

Staff at a Southampton rescue centre say the four-month-old kitten, named after Argentinian forward Lionel Messi, is certainly living up to his namesake by chasing the ball around the television screen during matches.

He can be seen reaching up to touch the screen with his paws as the ball moves during a match between Belgium and the USA.

Now the goal is to find the football ‘kit’ a new home.

Lucky Lionel was rescued after being found as a stray in Southampton by a member of the public with no mother in sight.

He was taken to the Blue Cross Centre, in Bubb Lane, West End, in a sorry state and lame in one leg.

But after getting treatment for an infection, he began making a good recovery.

And it was while in foster care with Blue Cross rehoming supervisor Laura Boyle that Lionel’s peculiar interest in World Cup matches was noticed.

When Laura switched on the TV to enjoy a World Cup match one evening, there was no stopping the lively kitten getting involved in every game, tirelessly following the ball around the screen.

And he will be able to watch the man himself in action later this week.

The real Lionel Messi is the lynchpin of the Argentina side, which has reached the semi-finals of the tournament and faces the Netherlands tomorrow after a 1-0 in over Belgium on Saturday.

Laura said: “We had no idea he would enjoy the football quite so much when we named him after a player, but it has turned out to suit him perfectly – he’s glued to the screen during every match!

“Lionel was in quite a bad way when he arrived, so it’s lovely to see him so full of beans now.”

Now the football fan is looking for a permanent new home, hopefully with owners as keen on sport as he is.

To find out more about Lionel and give him a loving home, call the Blue Cross on 0300 777 1530.