Former Golden Eaglet captain and Super Eagles midfielder, Haruna Lukman has opened up on his encounter with Argentine megastar Lionel Messi.
The 31-year-old former Monaco player captained the Golden Eaglets squad that won the 2007 U-17 World Cup in South Korea. With Nigeria defeating Spain by 3-0 in the final to lift the trophy for the third time.
Haruna’s performance at the U-17 World Cup caught the attention of Ligue 1 giants, AS Monaco. He signed a four-year contract in December 2007 with Monaco but couldn’t showcase his talent due to injuries.
The Jos born midfielder was part of the Super Eagles squad led by Lars Lagerback. Nigeria lost to Argentina and Greece, before picking a point against host nation, South Korea.
Speaking on coming up against Lionel Messi ; “People talk about Messi a lot, but I must tell you he is from another planet.” Haruna said to Punch Sport.
“It was a great moment for me. Seeing him walk down the tunnel that day, I won’t lie; I lost my confidence as a player that moment because he is a player capable of singlehandedly destroying any team.
“But I overcame it after our anthem was rendered but unfortunately we lost that game. I still have pictures of that game in my gallery where I came up against him. Each time the Eagles take on Argentina and I see those pictures, it rekindles old memories of my time in the Eagles.”
The midfielder described featuring at the World Cup as his your best time with Nigeria
“It’s every player’s dream and I had that experience. Players that never played at the World Cup are never fulfilled. But I’m lucky to be part of the team. It was a great moment and a good feeling.
“It’s the dream of every player to represent their country at the World Cup. I was very fortunate to make the squad. I played two games, though we lost those matches, it remains a fulfilling moment for me.” He concluded.