Lionel Messi: Scott McTominay nearly missed out on getting Barcelona star’s shirt
There aren’t many professional footballers in the world who wouldn’t want to get their hands on Lionel Messi’s shirt after a game.
Even if their team had tasted defeat at the hands of either Barcelona or Argentina, most players would be eager to secure the iconic piece of memorabilia after the full-time whistle had been blown.
That was certainly the case with Scott McTominay after Manchester United were beaten 1-0 by the Blaugrana in the 2018/19 Champions League.
An own-goal from Luke Shaw earned victory for the Spanish side in a game which saw Messi absolutely poleaxed by Chris Smalling.
The Argentine was left with a bloody nose from the incident, but still managed to finish the match at Old Trafford.
However, Messi clearly wasn’t happy after the game, because he first refused to give McTominay his shirt, believing it was the Scotsman who had left him in a crumpled heap on the floor.
Sergio Romero had to step in and save the day, explaining to his fellow countryman that it wasn’t McTominay who had done the damage.
“Messi, 100 per cent. Yeah, Messi, Messi. I got his shirt, you know?” McTominay said to ESPN when asked to name the best player in the world.
“So, whenever we played against him for Barcelona , Chris Smalling elbowed him and he’s got blood coming out of his nose. And he thought it was me.
“Because I said to Sergio Romero, ‘please can you ask Messi to get his shirt?’.
“Sergio comes back in and said, ‘Oh, he thinks you were the one who elbowed him on the halfway line’. I said, ‘No, no, no, no – tell him it wasn’t me, so make sure I get that shirt because that’s going in my bedroom’. So he knows it wasn’t me now.
“Sorry Chrissy, but he was the one who roughed him up a bit.”
Had it not been for Romero, McTominay would have missed out on the opportunity of a lifetime – and it would have all been Smalling’s fault!
Messi was not his usual self the night McTominay got his shirt, with the blow from Smalling in the first half of the game clearly having an impact.
But in the second leg of the tie, the Argentine was back to his very best, scoring a brilliant brace in a 3-0 win for Barcelona at Camp Nou.