Real Madrid defender Pepe has apologised for stamping on Barcelona striker Leo Messi's hand in their Copa del Rey clash and said it was "unintentional", in comments published by his club.
"I was an unintentional act. All the same, if Messi was offended then I apologise to him," Pepe said in a statement published in Spanish on Real Madrid's website.
Pepe's stamp on a prostrate Messi in the Copa del Rey quarter-final clash at Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu stadium on Wednesday, where the home team fell to a 2-1 loss, was splashed across the front pages of the sporting press.
"All I mean to do is defend my team and my institution. I give myself to it body and soul. It never crossed my mind to hurt a fellow professional," Pepe added.