James Milner claims that he was called a “donkey” by Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi during Liverpool’s sensational Champions League semi-final comeback.
The Reds bounced back from a 3-0 defeat in the Camp Nou to overwhelm Barcelona at Anfield, scoring four goals without reply to book a place in the final against Tottenham in Madrid on June 1.
“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.
“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.
“Look, I’ve only got admiration for him. He has earned the right to say what he wants.
“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.
“But with players like that, you have to let them know you’re there and not let them have everything their own way. You just need to try to disrupt their rhythm.
“You don’t want to hurt him but it’s a physical game and, if he’s running the game, you try and knock him out of his stride. It’s part of the game, the mental side.”