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Liverpool midfielder James Milner says Lionel Messi called him a donkey during the first leg of their Champions League semi-final for a rough tackle that sent the Barcelona star to the turf.
Late in the first half of that opening leg at Camp Nou saw Messi come into contact with Andy Robertson along the sideline. Off balance, Milner came in late with a shoulder barge on the Barca talisman, sending Messi to the ground.
Incensed over the late contact, Messi called for a yellow card to be handed out but Milner escaped a warning on that occasion.
Having been embarrassed by a Messi nutmeg back in 2015 when he was a member of Manchester City, the Argentine believed it was an attempt at payback.
“He wasn’t happy,” Milner, who is learning Spanish, told the Daily Mail. “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.”