SAN DIEGO — San Diego native Chris Hegardt will take the pitch Friday in Miami with his Major League Soccer Charlotte FC team in the quarterfinals of the Leagues Cup.

It’s remarkable the 21-year-old is alive as more than 10 years ago, he battled liver cancer and needed a liver transplant.

During this time, he became a Make-A-Wish kid, hoping to meet his idol and soccer superstar Lionel Messi.

Hegardt flew to Barcelona and actually got to take the field with Messi.

On Friday, the two will share the field again, now that Messi plays in the MLS with Inter Miami.

  • Charlotte FC's Chris Hegardt
  • Chris Hegardt
  • Chris Hegardt

“It’s really cool, at that time of my life I couldn’t imagine that in 11 years I’d be playing against him, so I think it’s just a credit to like what I’ve done my life and the resilience I showed, but also him now playing in the MLS,” Hegardt told FOX 5 in an interview.

Hegardt described how the experience will be a “full-circle” moment.

“You never know who you are going to meet and how you are going to meet them again, so it’s kind of cool,” he said.

Hegardt added that he might try to get another photo after the game with Messi, but he knows Messi will probably be swarmed by people who will do the same.

And make no mistake, Hegardt’s ultimate goal is for his side to beat Miami and move on to the semifinals of the Leagues Cup.