Danny Rose has opened up on facing Lionel Messi in last seasons Champions League – and exactly what Mauricio Pochettino told him in the hotel before the game ahead of facing arguably the greatest player of all time.
The 29-year-old, who is currently on loan at Newcastle United for the remainder of the 2019-2020 campaign, was an unused substitute for Barca’s 4-2 victory at Wembley in the first meeting between the sides when the Argentine scored a stunning brace, a performance that Rose described as the best that he’s ever seen live.
However, after recovering from a groin injury that had him kept out for more than six weeks, the left-back was handed his first Champions League start of the season two months later at the Nou Camp – with Spurs needing to better Inter Milan’s result against PSV to progress to the knockout stages of the competition.
Thankfully for Rose and Tottenham, Messi was on the bench – with Barcelona playing a weakened team having already secured their passage to the last 16 as group winners. And, although he did end up coming on in the latter stages, the draw was enough for Spurs to squeeze through.
Speaking on an Instagram live with former England Under-17 teammate Medy Elito, Rose said: “I was on the bench for the home game in the Champions League and when we played away he was on the bench and he came on for the final 15 minutes, I s**t myself.
“My manager [Mauricio Pochettino] told me in the hotel before, you’re playing, but whatever you do, do not kick Messi. Do not make him angry.
“I laid on my bed thinking ‘what am I going to do tonight’. Luckily, Messi didn’t start, but then he came on and I was thinking ‘don’t foul him, don’t foul him’. If you make him angry we will lose, he [Pochettino] said.
“But we did well that game to be fair. Lucas came on and scored, because we only needed a point.”