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Jordan Henderson has explained how it felt to face Lionel Messi for the first time

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Millions of football fans across the world will tune in on Saturday evening for the Champions League final between Liverpool and Tottenham.

However, one man who’ll probably give it a miss is Lionel Messi.

Barcelona’s captain admitted last week that the 4-0 defeat against Liverpool at Anfield has affected him badly.

Messi was magnificent in the first leg at Camp Nou and appeared to have put his team, who secured a 3-0 victory, through to next month’s final.

He was unable to make the same impact at Anfield - although not for the want of trying - and looked shell-shocked at full-time as Jurgen Klopp’s side completed a miraculous comeback against all the odds.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson didn’t start the semi-final first leg but came on midway through the first half for Naby Keita.

This was the first time Henderson had ever played against Messi - and the midfielder has now spoken about the experience of going head-to-head against arguably the greatest footballer of all time.

Barcelona v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: First Leg

“As it turned out, I came on quite early as Naby Keita got injured. It was the first time I had been on a pitch with Lionel Messi,” Henderson told the Daily Mail.

“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.

“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 Becker] is but Messi put that shot in the one area Ali couldn’t protect. The whip, the pace, the precision - It was absolutely perfect.

"Did I think about asking for his shirt? No. I’ve never done it.

“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.

“As it turned out, I came home with Luis Suarez’s shirt. 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!”

Barcelona v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: First Leg

Playing against Messi clearly leaves a lasting impression - even on a player like Henderson, who faces other top footballers on a weekly basis.

It just shows that Messi is in a league of his own, especially when he’s in the form he showed against Liverpool in the first leg.

And if it wasn’t for Roy Keane, Henderson would probably have his shirt from that night in a frame on his wall!

Topics:
UEFA Champions League
Football
La Liga
Barcelona
Lionel Messi
Premier League
Luis Suarez
Jordan Henderson
Liverpool

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