Ecuador star at centre of storm after swapping shirts with Messi amid claims he ‘does not like’ his own country

AN ECUADOR football star has hit back at the fierce criticism he received for swapping shirts with Lionel Messi.

The legendary Argentina forward scored the only goal on Friday to fire his country to a 1-0 victory over Ecuador.

GettyLionel Messi exchanged his Argentina shirt with Ecuador’s Hernan Galíndez[/caption]

TyC SportsThe goalkeeper has faced a huge backlash from fans for exchanging shirts[/caption]

However, a huge controversy occurred after the final whistle when the visiting goalkeeper Hernan Galindez was spotted laughing and joking with Messi while they exchanged jerseys.

The 36-year-old stopper, who is the same age as the icon, actually grew up near the now Inter Miami ace in Rosario, Argentina.

And they even played together as kids – which led to the friendly on-field reunion last week.

But fuming Ecuador supporters took to social media to slam Galindez as they questioned his loyalty.

And after helping his nation bounce back to beat Uruguay 2-1 in their next qualifier on Tuesday, he hit out at those critics.

He said: “They told me that I let him score a goal on purpose.

“There were journalists who said that I did not like Ecuador, but I showed a lot of love for this country.

“Swapping the shirt with Messi was a gift for my son and I had promised him this for a long time.”


Galindez, who has 15 caps for his country, added: “I am 36-years-old and have two sons.

“I knew I would be criticised if I swapped shirts with Messi but the most important thing for me was my son’s happiness when he received his role model’s shirt.

“He is six years old and it was worth it.”

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