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25th Apr 2017

Irish football pundit gets into very heated radio row over Lionel Messi comments

"You said he was finished!"

Robert Redmond

We doubt Lionel Messi watches much football on Irish television.

But he and his Barcelona teammates were the topics of discussion on RTE following the goalless draw with Juventus last week.

The game saw the Catalan side crash out of the Champions League, following their 3-0 loss the previous week, and led to Irish pundit Eamon Dunphy declaring the end of Barcelona’s glory days.

He also appeared to predict the decline of Lionel Messi. While saying the Barcelona genius was still an incredible player, capable of improving any team in the world, Dunphy also said:

“Messi is not the Messi of memory. That genius needs energy and inspiration, and gave energy and inspirations to everybody around him. But he was always linking up with Iniesta and Xavi. And that’s now going to be a memory.”

A few days later, Messi reminded everyone of his superhuman abilities, scoring twice in the 3-2 win against Real Madrid in El Clasico at the Bernabeu. His second goal was the last kick of the game, it blew the title race in Spain wide open and was his 500th goal for Barcelona.

If this is Messi in decline, God help us.

Inevitably, Dunphy was asked about his comments when he appeared on Irish radio station 2FM on Monday night.

While he never used the words “finished” or “decline” after the Juventus game, he appeared to insinuate that we were witnessing the end of Messi’s prime and was questioned about the comments by former football Alan Cawley.

“You got it all wrong,” Dunphy said.

“The first thing I said was that Barcelona as a team were gone and we won’t see that team again. The next thing I said, and we all agreed, was that Messi was still, even if he lost 10, 15, 20 percent, a great player and I also said that I hoped he would come the Premier League and possibly Manchester City, it would be a fantastic thing.

“Now, to misrepresent that, funny enough another RTE programme did this morning. People talking candidly about football and having really interesting discussions and some moron will say you said something you never said. Well go on, finish your point.”

Things then got heated between the pair.

Cawley said that Dunphy said Messi was “finished.”

“I didn’t,” Dunphy shot back.

“Well the week before you more or less said you had a package ready to go saying he was finished,” Cawley replied.

“No, we (Dunphy and Liam Brady) didn’t say that either. What we said was that the Barcelona team that we have all loved for the last seven or eight years was no more. What we said about Messi was that he was diminished from what he had been as a great player.

“Now if you watched last night’s game, I don’t know whether you did or not or if you just watched the headlines.”

Cawley took issue with that jibe.

“Well, what can I do when you are saying you were watching a television programme last week and you don’t remember what you saw,” Dunphy replied, before appearing to curse when referencing comments made about his analysis of Messi on another Irish radio show.

“You should get a job on fucking Morning Ireland. I didn’t say that… You’re talking about something you allege that I said that I didn’t say. Now when you have a look at the tape, you can apologise.

“Because there’s a difference between saying that Barcelona are gone as a force in European football and saying Lionel Messi is finished. And by the way, scoring two goals last night wouldn’t prove very much in the great scheme of things.”

Messi’s two goals proved he’s still the best player in the world, and it’s probably not advisable to suggest he’s declining by any measure.

You can listen to the tetchy exchange here: