After being clattered by Lionel Messi during Barcelona’s 3-0 Champions League semi-final first-leg win in 2019, James Milner described the moment he was called a “donkey” by the midfielder..
Messi achieved immortality on Sunday evening when he led Argentina to their first World Cup victory at the fifth attempt. The 35-year-old put on one of his most magical performances in Qatar, becoming the first player to score in every knockout round, and his brace in the final helped him win the tournament’s Golden Ball for best player.
After his team went 2-0 up and then conceded twice in 90 seconds, Messi could be forgiven for having flashbacks to another famous comeback that he was on the losing end of..
The Argentine was in his final season at Barcelona in 2019 when the Catalans came to Anfield with a three-goal lead in their Champions League semi-final second leg.
Messi was the standout for Ernesto Valverde’s side with a second-half brace, and the tricky Argentinian was especially fired up after being on the wrong end of a crunching challenge from Milner before halftime. Messi looked to square up to the tenacious veteran, and in an interview with Ben Foster for Amazon Prime, the now-37-year-old detailed the heated exchange that spilled into the tunnel during the break.
When asked about a photograph of Milner, Foster replied, “He’s incredible, for me the best ever..
However, if you let players like that have their own way and give them too much respect, they will take over the game. Sometimes you just have to let them know you’re there and try to catch them off guard.
“He obviously didn’t like it and was yelling at me in Spanish, calling me the word for ‘donkey,’ which translates to someone who goes around kicking people. In the tunnel he was going mad at half-time saying ‘just because I megged you’.
To be honest, can’t he say whatever he wants? “It went well in the second leg.”
The return leg produced one of the Champions League’s most famous comebacks, with two goals each from Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum turning the semi-final on its head. Liverpool went on to win 4-3 on aggregate, advancing to the final, which they won 2-0 over Tottenham Hotspur..