'He wants your shirt too!' - Rudiger reveals how Fabregas guided shirt swap with Messi

Chelsea star Antonio Rudiger has revealed he still treasures the Barcelona shirt received from Lionel Messi - and that he may never have got his hands on it were it not for the intervention of Cesc Fabregas. 

Rudiger joined Chelsea from Roma in 2017 and has gone on to become a fixture in the Blues defence. 

But of all the top players he has faced over the course of his career, the little Argentine stands out. 

"I have Lionel Messi’s shirt from when we played Barcelona in the Champions League a couple of years ago. It was a big honour for me to play against a player like him so I just asked him after the game when we shook hands," the Germany international explained to Chelsea's official website.

"I thought for sure he doesn’t want mine but then Cesc Fabregas was nearby and he said ‘give him your shirt, he wants your shirt too!'"

When he was growing up, though, Rudiger had another idol: George Weah, who in 1995 became the first player born in Africa since Eusebio to win the prestigious Ballon d'Or prize. 

Now president of Liberia, the ex-Milan and Paris Saint-Germain legend was the first name to appear on the back of the defender's shirt.

"My first football shirt? It was a shirt I made for myself," he added.

"My parents didn’t have so much money to buy me one so I made one for myself - it was number nine, George Weah.

"It was just a white t-shirt and I wrote the number nine and his name on the back."

And Rudiger continued to admit that while he is happy with his level of English, certain team-mates can be difficult to understand.

"I understand most things but Ross Barkley’s English I don’t understand! And also Billy Gilmour – his Scottish accent is very difficult," he said.

"The last word I learned? There is a lot but the last one was rapid. For me, you say the guy is quick but Danny Drinkwater said to me ‘this guy is rapid’ and I didn’t know what that meant. I made sense when I thought about it but I never had it in my vocabulary before."