‘Everyone wanted it, but I got it!’
“Yes, here issie then!”, Eloy Room beamed from an Argentine hotel room.
The 34-year-old goalkeeper from Curaçao is seasoned in soccer, but feels like a child again for a moment when he proudly pulls out the blue and white shirt of world champion Lionel Messi. “Everyone wants it, but I have it!”
While video calling, his phone starts bubbling every now and then, so many messages Room gets. Everyone wants to know: how did he manage to get the coveted shirt of Messi, who scored his 100th international goal, after the final whistle of the Argentina-Curaçao practice game (7-0)?
In the video below, Eloy Room explains how he succeeded.
Proud Curaçao goalkeeper Room poses with Messi’s shirt: ‘I got it!’
After a short night, Room reveals his secret. “I have an Argentine teammate at Columbus Crew: Lucas Zelarayán. Before the match I already asked him if he couldn’t arrange for me to get Messi’s shirt. He knows some players within the Argentine selection.”
“He told me he would ask for it for me, but that I would really have to do it myself during the match, because of course everyone wants Messi’s shirt.” And so Room does during the game, in which he has to swallow a hat trick from Messi and loses 7-0.
“At halftime I happened to walk next to him towards the players’ tunnel. So I asked for his shirt and he immediately said it was fine, after the game. I still thought: he says that now, but later he will forget about it.”
Messi also wants Room’s shirt
When Messi stands in Room’s 16-meter area after the final whistle, he sees his opportunity. “He walked away from me, so I called him. And he was already acting like, oh yeah, we have to swap shirts. So I walked up to him and he immediately gave his shirt.”
To Room’s surprise, Messi also asked for his shirt. “I thought: he probably doesn’t need it. But he asked for it right away. So then we exchanged shirts. I congratulated him and he complimented me on some saves. Nice to hear that from such a great player. He was very nice and sincere.”
Watch the recap of the game below.
Messi scores hat trick in seven-game win against Curaçao
Big question now is what Room, former goalkeeper of Vitesse, Go Ahead Eagles and PSV, will do with his latest showpiece. “I’m going to frame this one. I never actually do that, I’ve only done that with my debut shirt, but this one will go with it. This is very special anyway.”
Will it be the same the other way around? That Messi frames Room’s shirt at home? “Who knows,” laughs the goalkeeper. “I once saw a picture that he does keep a lot of shirts. I don’t know if he’s going to keep this one, but he asked for it. So who knows!”
Still the best
Despite the 7-0 defeat, Room had a world night in northern Argentina. And for those people who think Messi, with his 35 years and World Cup gold in his pocket, is taking it easy these days, the Curaçao international has another message for that.
“People who say that have never played against him. He is older, but if you see his acceleration and the way he shoots with power and precision, I think he is still the best. I was able to experience that for myself now. It’s unbelievable sometimes when you see what he does.”