By Chris Wright
Allow us, if you will, to skip back to Tuesday night when Bayer Leverkusen lost 3-1 to Barcelona on their own patch in the Champions League. At half-time during said match, Leverkusen’s Michal Kadlec swapped shirts with Lionel Messi, despite teammate Manuel Friedrich apparently already having agreed to nab the wee man’s shirt at some point during the first 45 minutes.
The Leverkusen pair then squabbled on the pitch for a few minutes before Kadlec took the shirt down the tunnel. During the interval, Friedrich snatched the shirt back during a to-do outside the changing room. Kaldec then tried again, swapping shirts with Messi for a second time at the final whistle.
Case closed? Not by a long chalk. Irked by his players’ conduct, Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voller then confiscated both Messi shirts and told both Kadlec and Friedrich that they would be auctioned off for charity.
Voller told Bild:
“It was definitely a bit too much. I guarantee that Kadlec and Friedrich will auction their Messi jerseys for a good cause.
“What the pair did was a bit over the top. They were star-struck when 90% of the team was fully concentrated on the game.”
According to our German sources, one of the shirts is now pressed, framed and hung on the wall of Voller’s games room at home, while the other is wrapped around his pillow so he can fall asleep to the essence of Messi*.
(*these reports are, as yet, largely unsubstantiated)