Ujfalusi regrets Messi challenge

The Czech Republican apologises and says it was not his intention to hurt the Argentine star

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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.”


  • k14

    although I understand why he is apologizing, I wish he didnt.
    I hate the way messi tackle and steal the ball from other players, always knocking them down, never apologizing and sadly referees rarely call the foul.
    Hopefully this injury will teach him to tune down his tripping style to other players.

  • Flo

    It’s football and not chess. Such things happen. Not a big deal, seriously.

  • Derek Maaijen

    Ujfalusi has received a two match ban.

  • Nick Noone

    It is very sad to watch all the atletico fans justify what ijfaluci did. Imagine what you would be saying if the same thing happened to Forlan.
    These exellent players is what makes us love football. The Ijfalucis are just clowns that make the numbers.
    You should ask yourselves for his severe punishment.
    But, humans are ridiculus anyway, and football fans are the the worst kind.

  • Martin Rosenow

    It’s very sad to see people cast judgment on players they probably have never seen play before, based on one unfortunate challenge.

  • Derek Maaijen

    Nick Noone, I don’t think most fans are trying to justify what Ujfalusi did, we can all agree he deserved a red card. However, many of us are annoyed by the giant hype the media have created. Ujfalusi has been made to look like a monster, while he made a foul which you could find in any other match. Last season Dani Alves committed a similar foul on Racing’s left-back, but it wasn’t mentioned anywhere, because the victim was not Lionel Messi.

    People have been calling for a ban like Pepe’s, which would not have been fair at all. Ujfalusi made a dirty foul, but he didn’t try to use someone’s head as a football.

  • javi

    I disagree with those that cast judgment over either Messi or Ufja, both are great players and they play the game clean and to the best of their ability. Messi provides soccer fans some of the best this sport has ever offered, and Ufja is our beloved defender, who by the way, since entering Atleti has only two red cards, this being the second. Unfortunately these injuries happen, but they are not what the media makes them out to be. Right now this sells because its the best player in the world, but nothing like this was said when Gurpegui injured Kun a few days ago.

  • Flo

    Totally agree with you Derek and Javi. Nobody would have said anything if it wasn’t Messi who got fouled. The media hypes it, but such things happen, it is football after all.

  • Nick Noone

    I repeat!
    Imagine all of you your reaction if somebody like Ufja had tackled Forlan the same way and had sent him to hospital.
    Please write your comments on that imaginary situation

  • Derek Maaijen

    I would be very worried, and focus on Forlán’s recovery, instead of the person who committed the foul.

  • javi

    I agree with Derek. I would make comments against the defender only if it was clear that he was going to injure the player and if he had a reputation of doing this like Matarazzi or other players like him. Otherwise, what people are doing is jumping on the media wagon.

  • Nick Noone – why imagine if that has already happened just a week ago.
    Kun was injured in a very bad tackle by Gurpegui. Gurpegui didn’t even get a red card – only yellow. Kun should have been out for 2 weeks – same as Messi, but he was desperate to play Barcelona, so got out on the field and injured himself even more.
    It’s a terrible blow for Atleti – much more so than losing Messi for 2 weeks for Barca. It’s more of a blow than losing Forlan even. Yet nobody on this site or anywhere else was villifying Gurpegui – yes, there were words for the referee as that should have been a red card and a penalty in fact.

    That’s normal reaction. The thing with Messi was blown out of proportion. By the way, a minute after Mascerano commited worse foul on Tiago who’s now also out of play. Yet no one is crying for his head. It’s football, it happens, we are all thankfull that it wasn’t that bad for Messi, or for Kun.

  • NiñoTorres

    Nick Noone, as Nata mentioned, this exact thing HAS happened to us with Kun. And this case was probably worse than what happened with Ujfa and Messi. Last week vs. Athletic, Kun was through on goal, ready to score, and Gurpegi purposely takes him down with no intention of getting the ball. It’s annoying but I don’t really blame Gurpegi for this, he was doing what he had to do for his team and got away without a red card. The consequences are bad for us but you can’t change what happened. What annoys me more is that this hasn’t been mentioned anywhere in the media, despite the intent of the challenge being much worse than what happened on Sunday.

    The Messi incident is different, it’s a bad challenge from Ujfalusi but he is not that type of player, he wouldn’t purposely try and hurt Messi. It all happens very quickly, Messi moves fast, there is absolutely no way he would have the time to even think of intentionally going for Messi’s ankle. For me this is a dangerous challenge, but a genuinely innocent one, as replays show he even gets a touch on the ball first. Ujfa is a great guy and doesn’t deserve this horrible reaction. We all know it was a bad challenge but the talk of a 10 match ban is ludicrous, it’s embarrasing that this is even being suggested. Pathetic.

    A lot of reactions from Barça fans that I have read have been completely bitter and over the top. All players get injured and it is something you must accept. The whole incident with Messi has left a very sour taste in the mouth. We have had the same thing happen to us and it hasn’t even been acknowledged, and as a result, we will suffer much worse than Barça.

    Sorry for the essay but the reaction and unbelievable bias towards Barcelona and Messi has really been irritating me. The only sad thing about this is the horrible reactions from the media and certain Barcelona ‘fans’, who really need to learn something about football. You can’t have everything your own way.

  • Mert

    Ujfa’s a player who consistently has played very hard his whole career, and really never has had many “dirty” tackles like this most certainly was. sh*t like this happens 8 games outa 10, and it’s suddenly a HUGE deal since messi got hurt.