“I was at the right place at right time”

Arendse will trea­sure Lionel Messi jer­sey for a ‘life­time’

Sowetan - - Dipapadi - By Tiyani wa ka Mabasa

Mamelodi Sun­downs de­fender Wayne Arendse will for­ever cher­ish Lionel Messi’s Barcelona jer­sey.

The mo­ment Arendse, 33, re­alised he was at the right place at the right time, he seized his op­por­tu­nity to ex­change jer­seys with ar­guably one of the best foot­ballers ever.

It hap­pened in mid­week at FNB Sta­dium where the Brazil­ians lost 3-1 to the Cata- lan giants in a friendly to mark late pres­i­dent Nelson Man­dela’s cen­te­nary cel­e­bra­tions.

Arendse and his fel­low de­fend­ers were caught nap­ping by Barcelona for­wards, with Ous­mane Dem­bele help­ing him­self to the opener be­fore Luis Suarez and An­dre Gomes added their names to the score­sheet. Sibu­siso Vi­lakazi replied for the Tsh­wane side.

When the ref­eree blew the fi­nal whis­tle, Arendse found him­self next to the Ar­gen­tine drib­bling wizard who had come off the bench 20 min­utes ear­lier. “I was at the right place at the right time,” Arendse said yes­ter­day.

“When the ref­eree blew the whis­tle, I thought, ‘why not?’ It wouldn’t make sense for me to go ask some­one else when I have the best player in the world stand­ing right next to me,” added the Ser­gio Ramos fan.

On so­cial net­works, the Mitchell’s Plein-born, Cape Town, de­fender was de­scribed by some as “the hap­pi­est man in the coun­try” af­ter land­ing the No. 10 jer­sey. “I asked him [Messi] and he said, ‘yeah, no prob­lem’. I re­spect him and I will cher­ish that jer­sey for a life­time.”

The Manch­ester United and Real Madrid sup­porter added that he would frame the jer­sey and add some pictures of him­self chal­leng­ing Messi and other Barcelona for­wards from Wed­nes­day’s game.

In the 2007 Downs-Barca friendly at Lof­tus Sta­dium, then Sun­downs de­fender Vuyo Mere was lucky to swap jer­seys with Ronald­inho, who at the time was the world’s best player.

Orig­i­nal jer­seys of foot­ball stars usu­ally fetch good money at auc­tions, but Arendse is never go­ing to part with his prized possession.

“No, I won’t be tempted to sell it,” added Arendse.

/LEFTY SHIVAMBU/ GALLO IMAGES

Lionel Messi and Wayne Arendse of Mamelodi Sun­downs ex­change jer­seys.

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