Lionel Messi: Scott McTominay’s story about how he got Barcelona legend’s shirt in 2019

  • Rob Swan

Scott McTominay has been one of Manchester United’s best performers since Ralf Rangnick replaced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as manager in November.

The Scottish midfielder continues to divide opinion among fans but has now earned praise from Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho, Solskjaer and Rangnick.

The latter even recently suggested that McTominay had the potential to become a future United captain.

“He is an academy boy, his energy is amazing,” Rangnick said of the Scotland international after Man Utd beat Aston Villa in the FA Cup earlier this month. “He now also starts scoring goals and also with some leadership skills.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if in a couple of years he would be the captain of this team.”


McTominay, 25, has played over 150 matches for United since making his debut in 2017.

Two years after his maiden appearance, he found himself up against arguably the greatest footballer of all time, Lionel Messi, in the knockout stages of the Champions League.

McTominay: How I managed to get Messi’s shirt

McTominay tells a brilliant story about how he ended up getting the Barcelona legend’s shirt – thanks to a bit of help from his teammate at the time, Sergio Romero.


Asked who the best player in the world is, McTominay told ESPN in 2021: “Messi, 100 per cent. Yeah, Messi, Messi. I got his shirt, you know?”

The Scotland international elaborated: “So, whenever we played against him for Barcelona [2019], Chris Smalling elbowed him and he’s got blood coming out of his nose. And he thought it was me.

“I said to Sergio Romero, ‘please can you ask Messi to get his shirt?’.

“Sergio comes back in and said, ‘Oh, he thinks you were the one who elbowed him on the halfway line’.

“I said, ‘No, no, no, no – tell him it wasn’t me, so make sure I get that shirt because that’s going in my bedroom’. So he knows it wasn’t me now.

“Sorry Chrissy, but he was the one who roughed him up a bit.”

Video: McTominay on getting Messi’s shirt

Watch McTominay tell the story here:

A week later, after Manchester United were beaten 3-0 by Messi’s Barcelona at Camp Nou, Smalling approached the legendary Argentine forward.

However, Messi’s reaction suggested he still hadn’t quite forgiven Smalling for that elbow at Old Trafford.

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