On 23 November 2018, at the Santiago de Bernabeu in Madrid, Real Madrid were leading Czech republic outfit, Viktoria Plzen by 2-0 in a UEFA Champions league fixture.
At the last quarter of the match enters Ubong Ekpai, Nigerian winger for Viktoria Plzen. The visitors began to press and were rewarded with a goal at the 78th minute.
At the 87th minute, the match took a disturbing turn when Nigerian Ekpai caught left-back Marcelo by the sideline with a very harsh tackle, sending the Bazilian out of the game, as well as the very important El Clasico game scheduled for the coming weekend.
The challenge left the Real Madrid defender in severe pain and saw him lying down for a while before the Real Madrid medics helped him up. Marcelo eventually limped off very angry and shocked.
Ekpai explains to omasports how it happened as he says it is one of his fondest memories of his Champions League experience.
“Real Madrid were leading us by 2-0. I was brought on and we scored immediately. We began to fight hard to get another goal and i went for a ball against Marcelo on the sideline and left him in pains on the turf.”
“I went to him to apologise for the tackle and he said angrily, `hey bro f***k off, you kicked me so bad´”
“Marcelo was very angry that I did that to him. I think it is football, I did not go in to injure him, I wanted to help my team.”
It did not end there as Furious Madrid fans took to Ekpai#s social media to express the feelings.
“A lot of Madrid fans were insulting me and sending bad texts, abusing me and all that on my social media. I think it is a normal thing in football. they were to play against FC Barcelona in the El Clasico so I understand their anger.”
While he received insults from Madrid fans, he got support from fans in the Czech Republic, especially those of his club Viktoria Plzen.
“This made people like me in the Czech Republic as they said oh he is a good player, he did a good job, he gives his all, he is very aggressive. I think this is normal for me because I always need to run, work and be aggressive on the pitch.”
I hope to play against Cristiano Ronaldo one day and that would be tough (laughs)