Yerry Mina has played down his clash with Lionel Messi, saying he would always respect his former FC Barcelona teammate.
Messi was seen taunting Mina after the latter missed a penalty in Colombia’s shootout against Argentina in the Copa América semifinals.
“Now, dance,” Messi said to the Colombian defender, in ironic reference to his celebration when he converted his spot kick against Uruguay in the previous round.
“What happened with Leo is something that can happen at any moment, this is football,” Mina said at an event hosted by his charity organization in Guachené, Colombia.
“Life has cycles, it gives [opportunities for] revenge, but I am calm because I know that Leo is a great person.
“I met him at Barcelona and I thank him for the support that he gave me, I will always respect him,” the defender reflected.
“I admire Messi for what he is, at that time we were both defending our National Team.
“If I could give my life for my national team, I would give it, but what happened was left [out on the pitch], there’s nothing to it.”
Mina played five league games and one Copa del Rey match for Barcelona, coinciding with Messi in only a handful of matches.
He was widely blamed for Barcelona’s 5-4 loss to Levante, which spoiled an unbeaten season on the second-to-last matchday. He was then sold to Everton in the next transfer window after he arrived.
Over the course of the game against Argentina, Colombian players frequently targeted Messi with fouls. The Colombians received six yellow cards, and all six of them were due to fouls on Messi. The #10 ended the match with visible blood on his sock.
The game ended with a 1-1 draw, Messi assisting Lautaro Martínez’s opening goal but Luis Díaz grabbing the equalizer in the second half.
In the shootout, Argentina keeper Emiliano Martínez made headlines due to his incessant trash talk and his skill. He saved three penalties in Argentina’s 3-2 win in the shootout, including Mina’s.
Argentina would go on to win the cup, beating hosts Brazil 1-0 in the final.