The striker faced the Argentina legend five years ago in the Copa America Centenario, and admits that he found himself tongue-tied on the occasion
Christian Pulisic has revealed that he asked Lionel Messi for a selfie as a teenager when the two faced each other at international level – but that he was too nervous to actually speak to the forward.
The USMNT striker faced the Argentina legend five years ago in the Copa America Centenario, when La Albiceleste beat the Stars and Stripes in the semi-final en route to a silver-medal finish against Chile.
Now, Chelsea attacker Pulisic has recounted how he snagged a picture with the veteran forward after the game, despite the fact that he found himself tongue-tied in the presence of the then-Barcelona star.
What has been said?
“I played against Argentina and we suffered that day,” Pulisic told The Athletic . “We were 2-0 down at half-time and Lionel Messi was incredible. I came on at half-time thinking, ‘Oh no, this will be fun.’
“We lost 4-0. Messi and I were chosen for random doping tests after, so I was sat there next to him trying to be cool, aged 17. I told our doctor to get my phone. I had to get my phone to have a picture taken with him.
“We couldn’t really communicate and I was too nervous to try and speak to him, but I had to ask him for a photo by gesticulating. He was really nice about the whole thing. He probably gets it a lot, just maybe not in those circumstances.”
‘Can I ask you a crazy question?’
Pulisic also provided some greater context around his first international goal for his country, netted in a pre-Copa friendly with Bolivia shortly before the tournament, revealing that he had flown back from his prom on the morning of the match.
“The night before, I actually attended my high school prom,” he added. “It was crazy. I had training with the national team and said to (then-USMNT head coach) Jurgen Klinsmann, ‘Can I ask you a crazy question?’ I told him that I’d missed out on so much and that all my friends wanted me to go.
“I knew it was in another city. Jurgen spoke with his wife and agreed to let me go. I flew to Harrisburg straight after training and went to the senior prom at Hershey. I had a long night. I danced the night away and went to a couple of after-parties. You can’t go to a prom and not go to the after-parties!
“I avoided drinks and then flew back to Kansas the next morning, sleeping on the plane for three hours. I was a bit tired and didn’t start, but I was subbed in at the end and scored!”
The bigger picture
Since their meeting five years ago, both Pulisic and Messi have only served to enhance their reputation, with the former building a sterling track record at Borussia Dortmund and then Chelsea.
As an incumbent Champions League holder, the USMNT star will be out to help the Blues defend their title – but they will have to do so with the threat of the Argentine and new club Paris Saint-Germain lurking.
Messi brought the curtain down on a one-club career with Barcelona weeks after maiden Copa America glory with his country earlier this year, and will be looking to secure longed-for European silverware at Parc des Princes.