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New Maidstone signing Andre Boucaud doesn't take any prisoners - just ask Lionel Messi.

Boucaud let Messi know he was around while playing for Trinidad & Tobago against Argentina in Buenos Aires six years ago.

Javier Mascherano - a clubmate of Messi's at Barcelona at the time - stepped in to calm the situation.

"I tackled Messi hard," said midfielder Boucaud, who won almost 50 international caps.

"It was in Argentina and I gave him a hard tackle.

"In the heat of the moment one of the players came over and said, 'my friend, calm down' and I was like, 'shut up, blah, blah, blah'.

"The guy telling me to calm down was Mascherano so I kind of realised where I was and if I'd injured Messi in Argentina I don't think I'd be here now to do this interview!

"We lost 3-0 but it was only 1-0 at half-time."

Boucaud, who's joined Maidstone from Barnet, treasures his international caps.

He added: "International football is the highlight of my career because I've played in stadiums I could only dream of and against players I could only dream of.

"I only stopped 18 months or two years ago, it was a great achievement to represent my family's country.

"I've played against the world's best, Argentina, in Argentina, in front of 60 or 70,000 people.

"I played against Mexico, in Mexico, in front of 80,000.

"International football is just a different kind of style.

"That's why sometimes you might see me play a certain way here that's been instilled in me.

"At those levels you can't give the ball away willy-nilly because you won't see it again, so you might see me make a pass when really I should lump it forward. It's not in my DNA to do that."

Boucaud links up with Maidstone head of football John Still for the third time after switching to the Gallagher.

Still initially wanted to move him on when they first worked together at Dagenham but quickly changed his mind and later took him to Barnet.

"He basically came in and said I wasn't for him," said Boucaud.

"That's fine because football is about opinions - some managers will like you, some won't.

"I didn't moan, I didn't give anyone any problems, I just got my head down, worked hard, got back in the team and I think we made the play-offs that year.

"My experience got me through that period.

"It's one of those things that happen in football and what I always tell young players is if a manager isn't having you or you're out of the team, just keep your mouth shut and work hard.

"In the end I won John over and he's signed me twice more, at Barnet and now here.

"He's a good guy because he didn't treat me any different.

"He didn't single me out and I respect him for that.

"He's one of the best managers I've worked with.

"I know what football's like at times. At some clubs, if you're out of favour and they really want you out, they disrespect you, make you train on your own and treat you in a bad manner but John never did that."

At 35, this is Boucaud's first taste of National South football after leaving Barnet.

He has an important role at the Gallagher as Maidstone look to secure a play-off place.

Boucaud said: "I'm coming to the end of my career and I just want to play and enjoy my last few years.

"If I can help the young boys here, that's good.

"I've never played at this level before, so I didn't know what to expect, but from seeing the boys in training and playing, you can see everyone's got ability.

"It's just the mentality side of things sometimes."

SOURCE: Kent Online