Jordan Henderson has opened up on the experience of playing against Lionel Messi and has revealed a lesson from Roy Keane that stopped him asking for the Barcelona star’s shirt.
Henderson came up against the six-time Ballon d’Or winner in last season’s Champions League semi-finals, with Messi taking centre stage during the first leg at the Camp Nou, scoring twice including a brilliant curling free-kick from distance.
Liverpool would ultimately overturn a three-goal deficit during an improbable comeback at Anfield in the return fixture, but Henderson admits he was left hugely impressed after his first encounter with one of the sport’s all-time greats.
“You don’t think to yourself ‘Oh my God – that’s him,’ but there’s no question he plays the game differently to when you see him on TV. He’s so fast,” Henderson told the Daily Mail.
“Thinking about his free-kick now, I still can’t believe he scored it. I actually thought he was going to take it short.
“I’ve told you how good I think Ali [Alisson] is, but Messi put that shot in the one area Ali couldn’t protect. The whip, the pace, the precision – it was absolutely perfect.”
Despite his admiration for the Argentine superstar, however, Henderson has revealed he did not consider asking for Messi’s shirt following a lesson learned from former Sunderland manager Keane.
“Did I think about asking for his shirt? No. I’ve never done it,” the Reds skipper said.
“Roy Keane told me when I was at Sunderland that if you ask for someone’s shirt, it looks like you are in awe of them.”
Keane’s comments ensured Henderson did not come back with Messi’s jersey from the club’s trip to Catalonia, though he did return with a souvenir after being handed the shirt of former Liverpool teammate Luis Suarez.
“As it turned out, I came home with Luis Suarez’s shirt,” Henderson continued.
“Luis is a good lad and he gave me it as a gesture as we had played together for Liverpool. I don’t know what he’s done with mine!”