Espanyol boss Quique Sanchez Flores has been forced to apologise after praising Lionel Messi following last weekend’s Catalan derby.
Messi scored one and created another two during Barcelona’s 4-1 thrashing of city rivals Espanyol, with Flores paying tribute to the Argentine afterwards and hugging him on the pitch.
However, that prompted a fierce backlash from Espanyol fans, with Flores now admitting that he should have been more reserved in his comments.
"I apologise as it was never my intention to hurt Espanyol fans' feelings," Flores told Marca.
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"I am dedicated to our cause and I identify with the club.
“Obviously I don't know the full 116 years of history of the club because I have only been here for three months, but I want the people to be happy and to enjoy themselves, so I am sorry.
Flores (Espanyol coach): "Lionel Messi is the only player who could score a hat trick in every game if he was selfish." pic.twitter.com/OrLSybei40
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"I do things spontaneously and I try to treat all opponents in the best way possible.
"I have the utmost respect for Espanyol fans, who have always been superb with me."