Despite Lionel Messi’s World Cup triumph on Sunday, Javier Zanetti is not ready to put him above Diego Maradona as Argentina’s greatest.
Messi finally made it to the World Cup on Sunday after the thrilling final against France went to penalties at the Lusail Stadium.
The 35-year-old scored twice in a tense 3-3 draw before converting a penalty in a shoot-out that Argentina won 4-2.
It was Argentina’s third FIFA World Cup and a particularly poignant one given that it was the first since Maradona, who famously led his nation to glory in the 1986 tournament, died in November 2020.
While Messi’s performances in Qatar have cemented his place as the greatest player in history in the eyes of many, Zanetti feels he is yet to overtake Maradona as Argentina’s greatest player of all time.
Zanetti told Stats Perform: “No, not for me. I don’t like [the] comparison.
“We have to be grateful that the two greatest [players] in history are Argentines.
“I don’t think [Messi] has changed. I think he is more mature now and this time he was able to transfer his leadership to the rest of the group.”
Argentina were twice pegged back by France, first surrendering a 2-0 lead as Kylian Mbappe struck twice before equalizing again in extra time after Messi put Lionel Scaloni’s man back in front.
Argentina’s 36-year wait to lift international football’s top prize again is the longest gap between a nation winning World Cup titles and Zanetti believes the drama of their achievement made the victory all the sweeter.
“It’s a great emotion that the guys gave us because we’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” Zanetti added.
“I think they have succeeded, the dream of millions of Argentina fans around the world.
“It was a great final for us Argentinians because it seemed like everything was going our way, but then France had a great response.
Andres Iniesta, Messi’s former team-mate at Barcelona, was delighted that the now Paris Saint-Germain forward has finally made it to the World Cup.
“Yesterday’s final was something spectacular and for [Messi] to have the opportunity to lift the World Cup now is inexplicable,” Iniesta told reporters during a visit to Barcelona’s training ground.
“Leo did everything possible to achieve this. He had a spectacular World Cup and the icing on the cake was unbelievable.”
“I’m sure he feels the utmost happiness.