Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has revealed what it was like to play against Lionel Messi for the first time, during the Reds' Champions League semi-final against Barcelona last month.
The Reds overcame a 3-0 deficit at Anfield in the second leg of the tie, capping one of the most exciting nights in European football history. Barça bowed out of the competition after blowing a three-goal lead for the second consecutive year, following a humiliating breakdown against Roma in the 2018 quarter-finals.
Ahead of Saturday's Champions League final against fellow Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur, Henderson spoke with the Daily Mail about initially being left out of the line-up for the first leg of the tie, facing Messi for the first time and why he didn't swap shirts with the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.
Henderson, who came on from the bench in the first-half of the first leg in Catalonia, said: "I would be lying if I said I wasn’t hurt before this match. I felt sick not to be named in the starting line-up but, as hard as it is, you cannot put yourself first.
"When you are the captain of Liverpool in a European semi-final, the team is the priority and always will be. 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.
"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 also explained why he didn't swap shirts with the Argentine international following the match.
The midfielder added: "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."
After Henderson's roller-coaster of a year, the 28-year-old and Liverpool are set to attempt to avenge last season's loss to Real Madrid when they take on Tottenham in this year's Champions League final.