Kyle Walker has admitted that he embraced Vinicius Junior after Manchester City’s UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg at Real Madrid because he didn’t want to become a meme.
The England international was embroiled in a fiercely contested battle with Vinicius out on the wing last Tuesday. Vinicius got the better of Walker for a lot of the game, scoring a stunning goal in the eventual 1-1 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu.
One of the most notable moments between Walker and Vinicius occurred when the latter attempted an audacious rainbow flick over the Man City star. While he got the ball over Walker’s head, Vinicius was unable to fully complete the manoeuvre and he was unable to re-gather possession.
Despite the intensity of their duel during the game, the pair hugged it out afterwards, something which Walker discussed ahead of the second leg at the Etihad Stadium.
“Well I went to hug him, because he tried to rainbow flick me, don’t try that, because I don’t want to become a meme! No, but we had a good battle, I have a lot of respect for him, it when it has been a good game, a good a battle, and at the end of it, you show your respect,” Walker said at a press conference.
“When the whistle goes tomorrow though, that goes out of the window, and it’s dog-eat-dog.
“He is a very good player, he does what he needs to do in order to help his team. I try not to get involved with players trying to wind me up, and trash-talking.
“If he’s going down easy and asking for yellow cards, it’s part and parcel of the game. You’re gonna get it, but let’s not take his football away from him. He’s a top player.”
Walker and Vinicus will resume their rivalry in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final on Wednesday.