Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Christoph Kramer has revealed how he had to force himself to ask Lionel Messi for his jersey after a Champions League clash as they both waited for a doping test.
Germany international Kramer faced off against the Barcelona star in a Champions League clash when playing for Bayer Leverkusen, and both men were called to give samples for drug testing following the game.
Despite the awkwardness of the situation, Kramer said he managed to stump up the courage to ask Messi for a souvenir, and was rewarded with the multiple Ballon d'Or winner's shirt.
Speaking exclusively to Goal and SPOX, he said: "I asked Lionel Messi about his jersey during a doping test, that was after a Champions League game with Leverkusen against Barcelona.
"I was sitting next to him and had to force myself to ask him for his jersey at that moment, but then he just nodded and took it off. I said 'thank you', he said 'please' - that was the jersey exchange with Messi."
Now with Gladbach, Kramer has returned to action in recent weeks as the Bundesliga became the first major European football league to resume following the coronavirus pandemic.
Gladbach, currently fourth in the table ahead of facing Freiburg on Friday, continued their push for Champions League football last weekend with a 4-1 win over Union Berlin, although the biggest talking point was striker Marcus Thuram taking a knee after scoring his first goal in solidarity with the recent protests in the United States.
Thuram was one of several Bundesliga players to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement, which have been at the centre of worldwide protests against racism and police brutality in recent days following the death of George Floyd at the hands of officers in Minnesota.
The Frenchman was initially investigated by the German Football Association (DFB) over his behaviour, but no action was taken and Kramer has supported his team-mate, pointing out that there is nothing political about opposing racism.
He said: "I didn't even notice that in the game. Only after, when it was extensively reported in the media and made waves. I think that with such important issues, the popularity of a single player - but also of football - is put to good use.
"If statutes and rules were violated, I could understand [the DFB investigating], but the action by Marcus and the message on the shirt by Jadon Sancho are not politically questionable statements, they are on issues that currently affect the whole world.
"In our Borussia Park, we also show our attitude against racism with a large banner under the stadium roof. But the control committee of the DFB has now also declared that there will be no proceedings regarding the statements of solidarity and anti-racism."