A year after Argentina won the FIFA World Cup in Qatar by defeating France in a see-saw encounter, the chief architect of that triumph Lionel Messi has spoken about how much winning the World Cup meant to him.
The highly-decorated forward, who has eight Ballon d’Or’s to his name, not to mention countless trophies at the club level had never won the World Cup, leading to plenty of criticism of him in Argentina.
Messi is thought of by many fans as the greatest footballer of his generation. But having played in the white and blue jersey of the national team since 2005, it was only in 2021 that he was able to inspire the national team to their first triumph at a major tournament: the Copa América. In the final the Albiceleste had defeated arch-rivals Brazil.
“I had a bad time. My family and the people who love me did too. (Critics in Argentina) were very unfair to a generation of players and they said a lot of bad things about me. I’m not spiteful,” Messi said in an interview for the “Champions, a Year Later”, a special on Disney Star+.
He went on to add: “I feel it like a triumph for me to have changed that situation and won over all the people of Argentina. Today 95 percent or 100 percent of Argentines love me and that’s a beautiful feeling.”
He described the feeling of winning the World Cup as a feeling that everyone desires. He also noted that winning the World Cup allowed him to believe that he had won everything there is to offer in world football.
“It is the thing most everyone desires. Everyone dreams big and the biggest is to be world champion with your national team. I was lucky to achieve everything at the club level with Barcelona and also at the individual level. This was the only thing that eluded me. There are very few players who can say that they have achieved everything and thanks to God I am one of them,” Messi said.
“If you put in the effort, sacrifice, work and humility, in the end, you achieve your goals,” he added. “The road can be hard, but you have to keep fighting for your dreams to try to achieve them. I always loved playing football, coming to the national team and being on the field, but I never enjoyed it like today.”