DANNY Shittu has revealed that playing against Lionel Messi in 2010 has given him the confidence to believe anything is possible for Millwall this season.
Shittu, a former Nigerian international, was marking Messi in a World Cup group match against Argentina in South Africa – and stopped him from scoring.
Despite losing the game 1-0, Shittu says keeping the Barcelona star at bay has been a source of inspiration for him ever since.
And now the 32-year-old is targeting promotion from the Championship after the Lions climbed back into the play-off positions with a 1-0 win over Leicester City.
"I know with this team that we're going somewhere," he said. "It's happening now and I definitely believe that with the squad we've got we can keep pushing.
"Playing against Messi is the reason why I keep telling everybody that you have to work hard, because that was definitely my dream come true.
"We just want to keep winning as many games as we can, whether we're home or away. It feels good for us to be in the top six because, if we stay up there, it gives us a chance of promotion.
"We believe we can finish up there and get automatic promotion or a play-off place."
Speaking about Messi, Shittu added: "It was the opening game of the World Cup and I had a load of messages and emails from people saying that he was going to score five goals and do this and that.
"Once we'd finished the game and kind of kept him quiet, we were very happy with that. The guy is the best player in the world and to have kept him quiet was lovely.
"I think my kids will be able to talk about it and my mates as well. I saw a picture of me and Messi in the programme and that picture is something I'll remember for the rest of my life."