Curacao goalkeeper Eloy Room has revealed how he managed to get Argentina captain Lionel Messi's shirt ahead of his teammates.
Messi fired La Albiceleste to a 7-0 victory over Curacao in a friendly on Tuesday (March 28). He netted a hat-trick to take his goalscoring tally in international football to 102.
Several Curacao players had expressed their desire to get the Argentina captain's jersey before the game. However, it was goalkeeper Room who eventually got hold of the coveted shirt.
The Columbus Crew star has now explained that he planned ahead to get Messi's shirt. He disclosed that he requested club teammate and Argentinian attacker Lucas Zelarayan to make arrangements for him. Room told Dutch broadcaster NOS:
"I have an Argentinian teammate at Columbus Crew - Lucas Zelarayan. Before the game, I asked him if he could arrange for me to get Messi's shirt. He knows some players in the Argentina team. He said he would ask for it for me, but that I really should do it myself during the match, because, of course. everyone wants Messi's shirt."
Room added that he ensured that he was ahead of his teammates by talking to Lionel Messi at half-time:
"At halftime, I happened to walk next to him towards the players' tunnel. So I asked for his shirt, and he immediately said it was good, after the game. I thought, 'he will say that now, but he will soon forget it'."
The Curacao star also admitted that he was surprised when the Argentina captain asked for his shirt in return after the game:
"He walked away from me, so I called him. And he immediately went like, 'Oh yes, we have to exchange shirts'. So I walked over to him, and he immediately gave his shirt."
"I thought, 'He probably doesn't need that (Room's shirt)'. But he immediately asked for it. So then we exchanged shirts. I congratulated him, and he complimented me on some saves. Nice to hear that from such a great player. He was very nice and sincere."
Room went on to say that he plans to hang the Paris Saint-Germain superstar's shirt alongside his debut jersey:
"I'm going to frame this one. I never actually do that, I only did that with my debut shirt, but this one will be hung there. This is very special."
Asked if he thinks Messi would do the same with his Curacao shirt, Room replied:
"Who knows. I saw a picture once that he does keep a lot of shirts. I don't know if he's going to keep this one, but he asked for it. So who knows!"
Although he shipped seven goals against Argentina, Room played a key role in keeping the score down, making ten saves on the night.
Argentina superstar Lionel Messi is still the best, says Room
The Curacao goalkeeper also rubbished claims that Lionel Messi has slowed down due to age. Having experienced the Argentina captain's quality from close quarters, Room reckons Messi remains the best player in the world, saying:
"People who say that (Lionel Messi has slowed down) have never played against him. He's older, but when you see his acceleration and the way he shoots with power and precision, I think he's still the best. I've experienced that myself now. It's unbelievable sometimes when you see what he does."
Apart from the hat-trick against Curacao, Lionel Messi grabbed a goal in Argentina's 2-0 win against Panama during the international break.