Socceroos young gun Cameron Devlin has opened up on how he snagged one of the most valuable souvenirs of the World Cup – without even playing a single minute in Qatar.
The 24-year-old defensive midfielder was stuck below the likes of Aaron Mooy, Jackson Irvine, and Keanu Baccus in the Australian pecking order, but managed to trade shirts with Argentine legend Lionel Messi after the Round of 16 match – Messi’s 1000th as a professional footballer.
After landing at Sydney Airport on Monday evening, the Scottish-based midfield warrior opened up on his all-time snag.
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“I went on [the pitch] and consoled all the boys first and then shook Messi’s hand,” Devlin said.
“No-one had said anything so I just tried my luck and he said, ‘I’ll see you inside,’ and that’s what happened.
“I definitely wanted one of the other boys to have the opportunity first, but no-one took it, so I thought why not?”
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While Devlin will forever treasure the match-worn jersey of the genius’s milestone game, he doesn’t mind if the superstar tosses Devlin’s unused jersey in the bin.
“I don’t know if it will be on his wall at home or maybe still on the ground in that changing room but I’m not fussed — it’s more that I got his,” Devlin said.
“I was surprised he even took mine.
“He definitely wouldn’t know who I am, but he’s a nice enough bloke and a humble enough bloke to still show that respect, and that’s obviously super nice, but I wasn’t too worried about what my jersey was doing at that stage.”
Devlin revealed his father had taken possession of the shirt, but promised he would never sell it (despite its immense value to collectors around the world).
Devlin said: “The jersey is going to be at my home and my dad has got it.”
“I don’t think he’ll let me touch it anymore,” he said.
Some of the younger Socceroos were criticised for asking Messi for photos in the wake of the defeat, with a minority of fans complaining that players would cosy up to a rival following a devastating loss.
That attitude is absolute nonsense, former Socceroo Robbie Slater declared.
“I’ve always said he’s a smart fella, that Cameron Devlin,” Slater joked on the Fox Football Podcast.
“You can feel sad and still seize an opportunity that maybe you’re never gonna ever have again.
“I have no problem! I’d be a hypocrite to say that (they shouldn’t have done it). I went into bleeding Argentina’s dressing rooms in ‘93 to get Maradona’s jersey. I have no problem with that. Some of those players will never be in that position ever again.
“How often do you play Messi? Once – that’s probably it. If you’re lucky.
“It was the same for me back in my day with Maradona. You’re talking about the greatest player in the planet. If you can go and get his shirt? I tip my hat – well done son!”