James Milner has revealed how Lionel Messi called him a ‘donkey’ during Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final first leg clash against Barcelona.
Milner was charged with the task of keeping Messi quiet in the Nou Camp – a task the ex-England international was unable to carry out with Messi scoring twice in a 3-0 win.
Milner the donkey? Five key things to know…
- Liverpool lost 3-0 to Barcelona during their Champions League semi-final first leg at the Nou Camp.
- James Milner was tasked with keeping Lionel Messi quiet.
- His robust approach caused Messi to call him a ‘donkey’ during the tunnel at half-time.
- But Milner only made one foul during the match, compared to four from Barca’s Arturo Vidal.
- Liverpool overturned the three-goal deficit, winning the second leg 4-0 at Anfield.
However, Barcelona managed to squander that lead in the second leg at Anfield, allowing Liverpool a 4-0 win to reach a second successive Champions League final.
But even with Barca in control of the first leg, Milner’s robust approach managed to get under the skin of Messi, who didn’t seem to realise his English rival understood Spanish.
“He wasn’t happy,” Milner told the Mail on Sunday. ‘He was giving me plenty in Spanish going down the tunnel at half-time as well.
“He was calling me ‘burro’. It translates as donkey but I think it’s also used in Spanish football as a general term for someone who goes around kicking people.
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“I asked him if he was all right, but he wasn’t having it. I don’t think he realised I understood his Spanish. He said: ‘That foul you did, that’s because I nutmegged you’.
“I left him to it at that point and went into the changing room.”
“Messi has earned the right to say what he wants” – Milner
Despite being on the end of a verbal barrage, Milner has lost no respect for Messi, claiming the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s career exploits have earned him the right to ‘say what he wants’.
“Look, I’ve only got admiration for him. He has earned the right to say what he wants,” he added.
“The stuff he did in that game, stuff he has done his whole career, it makes him tough to play against.
“If you try and stop him, you can’t be scared of being made to look foolish. I’ve done it.
“I’ve been nutmegged by him and it has been viewed a million times. I wasn’t the first and I won’t be the last. He’s an incredible player.”
Liverpool are looking to seal their sixth Champions League crown but to do so, they will have to get past Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano on June 1.