Xabi Alonso has been treated for third-degree burns following the Champions League draw.
The ex-Liverpool midfielder helped pick out the balls during the UEFA-organised ceremony in Nyom and is said to have badly burned his fingers when picking out his former club’s heated ball.
Alonso kept his composure for the rest of the draw but was attended to by paramedics on site shortly after its conclusion.
The use of heated balls is a proud UEFA tradition dating back decades.
Usually, this method is used to ensure that Arsenal face Bayern Munich in the round of 16, as pretty much everyone in football except Arsene Wenger thinks that’s hilarious.
But with the Gunners spending the year seeking mercy in the Europa League, UEFA agreed to let Alonso help out one of his former clubs.
Customarily, the chosen ball is warmed to a level officially dubbed ‘toasty’ but on this occasion the ball was left in the microwave at least 45 seconds longer than usual.
“We can only apologise to Xabi,” said UEFA spokesman Lee Satchell.
“For some reason we thought it would be nice to have the work experience kid heat the ball.
“He left it in the microwave too long and it came out scalding hot.
“We hoped it would cool down in time but when Porto were drawn out fairly early we knew Xabi was going to match his old club with them.
“He’s a pro and did very well not to show any pain but I saw his fingers afterwards and they were horribly blistered.
“We will take the proper precautions for next year so that Arsenal get the hardest opponent possible, as is tradition.
“If they qualify that is…”
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