“Will I take a penalty? No chance at all,” that was Javier Mascherano’s response just over a year ago when he was asked why he had refused to take one against Rayo Vallecano.
Gerard Pique revealed that he had asked Mascherano to take the kick but he had refused with Luis Suarez instead taking it and missing – Barca’s seventh failure in 13 La Liga attempts at the time.
Fast forward a year later and Mascherano finally scored his first Barcelona goal after 319 games by smashing home a spot-kick in the 7-1 win over Osasuna. By why now Javier?
It’s not the first time Mascherano has turned down the chance to open his account, the defender has revealed that Lionel Messi has asked him several times but he has always refused because he “didn’t believe it was his place”.
And it wasn’t like there weren’t plenty of options on the pitch when Denis Suarez was sent tumbling by Fran Merida. Ivan Rakitic, who handed the ball over to Mascherano, has even admitted he wanted the kick.
“I wanted to take it, but Pique said to let Mascherano take it and he was right -- you have to listen to the president. I think it was perfect.”
There were nudges and smiles all over the bench at the sight of Mascherano stepping up and they quickly turned to delight and backslapping as the defender thundered the ball home.
Luis Enrique, meanwhile, appeared bemused by the whole thing after the game and claimed Camp Nou chose the penalty taker.
“I think it was the supporters behind the goal that called for him to take it. It was a real positive. But it’s not about the goal, that’s a mere anecdote because his mission is not to score goals.
“He is a top player, there can be no doubts about his performances. He’s a born competitor and he makes his team-mates better.”
Huge words of praise from Lucho but was the ball actually handed to Mascherano as a farewell gift?
There has been huge speculation that this season could be the 32-year-old’s last at Barcelona with a move to Turkey mooted while other report have claimed he could be headed back to River Plate.
Mascherano, meanwhile, has given little away – doing his best after the game to play down his goal.
“It's nothing. At first I tried to get out of it, but under pressure from my teammates and the crowd I decided to take it on."
It would have been a fun moment to remember in years to come had I missed it. I wasn't sure about it at all, honestly, but it was difficult to say no."
Maybe we should just ask President Pique?