Lionel Messi vs Yerry Mina: Colombian speaks out about Copa America controversy

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One of the enduring images of this summer's Copa America was Argentina captain Lionel Messi clashing with Colombia's Yerry Mina during their semi-final penalty shootout.

Both men were fiercely competitive with each other during normal time, but things kicked up a notch - and became a lot more personal - during the decisive spot-kick contest.

Messi and Mina were teammates at Barcelona in 2018. However, there was no love lost between them during the semi-final.

Their friction was caused by Mina's extravagant celebrations in Colombia's quarter-final shootout victory over Uruguay. The 26-year-old Everton man danced and laughed with teammates after converting his own spot-kick, even though his penalty was not the decisive one for his country.

Colombia's eventual success in the shootout, though, sent Uruguay - and Messi's close pal Luis Suarez - crashing out of the competition. In the aftermath of the result, many were of the opinion that Mina's antics after scoring what was only his side's third penalty of the shootout were disrespectful and unnecessary. Camp Nou legend Messi was most definitely among them.

The semi-final shootout was a bad-tempered affair all round, with plenty of trash talk on display from both camps.

This was especially true when Mina stepped up to take his own penalty as Argentina goalkeeper Emi Martinez had plenty to say.

“You're laughing, but you're nervous," suggested the Aston Villa shot-stopper to Mina, before vowing: "I'm gonna eat you alive. I'm gonna eat you alive.”

Ultimately, Martinez's tactic was a success. Mina failed to convert his spot-kick, much to the delight of Messi.

"Why don't you dance now?" Messi was overheard shouting at Mina after his penalty was saved. The 34-year-old six-time Ballon d'Or winner then sarcastically clapped as the Colombian made his way back to the centre-circle.

It was a massive departure from the typically calm demeanour that we have seen from Messi over the years. With that said, his shift in attitude signified just how important the tournament was to him.

Messi had never won a major international trophy with his country before he lifted this summer's Copa America. His Argentina side would eventually defeat Brazil 1-0 in the final of the competition.

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After weeks of silence on his spat with Messi, Mina has now spoken out to confirm that he has no ill will over the situation, insisting that he will "always respect" Messi.

"What happened with Leo is something that can happen at any moment, this is football," Mina said at a charity event, via Marca, per a report in The Mirror.

"Life has cycles, it gives [opportunities for] revenge, but I am calm because I know that Leo is a great person.

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"I met him at Barcelona and I thank him for the support that he gave me, I will always respect him.

"I admire Messi for what he is, at that time we were both defending our National Team.

"If I could give my life for my national team, I would give it, but what happened was left [out on the pitch], there's nothing to it," he added.

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There is no doubt that tensions can run high during high-stakes tournament matches, but the scenes witnessed between Messi and Mina were exceptional even for a crucial semi-final. It is refreshing to see that there is no long-term grudge held after the event, at least in Mina's case.

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