Atlético defender Tomas Ujfalusi attended a press conference at the Cerro del Espino training facilities this morning in order to talk about his controversial challenge against Lionel Messi in yesterday’s defeat to Barcelona.
The tackle, which earned Ujfalusi a red card, left the Argentine superstar with a sprained ankle and out for at least two weeks.
“I’m sorry. I have to publicly apologise because it was not my intention,” said Tomas. “I wanted to go for the ball but I had the bad luck of stepping on his ankle, but before that, I had touched the ball.”
“In the images, you can see that the ball moved a bit, that I tried to take it from him, but I was charging full speed and couldn’t stop. To be honest, the photos published by the papers are very scary looking,” he said.
Asked if he was able to talk to the reigning Pichichi after the match, Ujfalusi said, “I haven’t spoken with Messi. I tried to yesterday but as is normal Leo was very upset. Today I sent him a message using Kun’s phone asking for forgiveness.”
Referee David Fernández Borbalán did not think twice about sending Ujfa off, despite his rojiblanco team-mates’ pleas for mercy.
“I can’t talk about the referee’s decisions. It was a hard challenge and I have to accept the decision. In the video you can clearly see that I touched the ball before stepping on his ankle, but the referee is free to decide whatever he wants.
“I am not an aggressive player and I have never been a rough one. I recognise that it was a hard challenge but I went after the ball,” said the right-back.
Tomas feels like perhaps he has been vilified more harshly because of who he injured, as opposed to the nature of the tackle itself.
“In football, there are ugly situations like the one that occurred yesterday, but it happens frequently. I want to make clear that if it hadn’t been Leo who was tackled, I also would’ve said I was sorry because it’s something that would be terrible for any player.
“I’m not concerned about earning a reputation as a rough player, it’s something I won’t be able to change. The tackle was against one of the best players in the world and that’s why it all looks different. But that’s normal.”
The 32-year old expressed relief that the injury was not a severe one, despite the gruesome images that floated around the web.
“I don’t know if I will be sanctioned, although the images are scary. I am fine now that I know that it wasn’t a fracture and that he will only be out for two or three weeks.
“I am also at peace because I know that it was not my intention to hurt him. I had the bad luck of stepping on his ankle and I will continue to work with the team awaiting the sanction.”