- Former Manchester City star Stephen Ireland recalled how he bested Lionel Messi and Barcelona
- Ireland was told Barcelona would consider signing him
- An Argentina legend shared a possible way to stop Messi
A former Manchester City star recalled how he once bested Lionel Messi and Barcelona during a friendly.
There were only few players in recent years who have confidently said they have beaten Messi inside the pitch. Despite experiencing defeats, the Barcelona superstar is still a dominant force in his LaLiga and Argentina side. Indeed, Messi has always been on top of his game in every competition. However, former Man City star Stephen Ireland said it was during a pre-season friendly when he got the better of the six-time Ballon d’Or winner.
In a recent exclusive interview with The Athletic (via Goal.com), Ireland looked back at the only time he outshined Messi and the Barcelona team inside the pitch. According to the 33-year-old, he was the best player in the said friendly and was able to read Messi’s passes multiple times.
“We played against Barcelona in pre-season and I was the best player on the pitch by a country mile. Messi was playing. He went on one of his mad runs and I just thought, ‘I have to tackle him’. I did this massive hook tackle on him. It was an amazing tackle,” Ireland recalled.
“There were four or five times when I read his passes and intercepted them. I went round him. I gave him the eyes and went a different way. It was cool, really cool, to be out there with him,” he continued.
Apparently, Ireland’s motivation coming into the friendly against Barcelona was not Messi. Instead, the attacking midfielder revealed that on the way to Camp Nou, he was told that he could have a chance to be signed by Barcelona if he plays well against them.
“On occasions like that, you’re more alert, you try harder. You run quicker, you see more. I’m built for that. I remember on the bus [to Camp Nou], two players saying to me, ‘If you play well today, Barcelona will sign you’,” Ireland revealed.
Ireland is just one of few who were able to outshine Messi in a game. For more than a decade, there has been no proven gameplan which can really stop the dominance of the Barcelona captain.
However, Argentina legend Fernando Caceres, who has been known for stopping goal scorers by taking them out by force, recently offered a simple yet difficult way to stop Messi.
Caceres thinks that the only possible way to stop the legendary forward is to simply hurt him saying “just kick him, that's the solution you have.”