Lionel Messi emulated fellow Argentina great Diego Maradona by dragging his country to World Cup glory last month.
Lionel Messi wishes Diego Maradona had been able to hand him the World Cup trophy last month, but he has no regrets over the time it took him to lead Argentina to football’s greatest prize.
Messi inspired Argentina to a fourth World Cup in Qatar last year, winning the Ballon d’Or award after scoring seven goals at the tournament – including two in the final against France.
The Albiceleste’s triumph was their first in the competition since Maradona – who died in 2020 – produced his own string of talismanic displays that led them to glory in Mexico 1986.
During an interview in Paris with Andy Kusnetzoff, Messi said he regretted the fact that Maradona – who coached him at the 2010 World Cup – was not alive to witness his crowning moment.
“I would like Diego to give me the cup, or at least to see all this, to see Argentina as world champions with everything he wanted and how he loved the national team,” Messi said.
“I think from above, he — like a lot of people who love me — was strong.”
While Messi had to wait until his fifth and likely last World Cup to lift the trophy, the legendary striker says his triumph could not have come at a better time.
“I think if I had to choose the moment, it would be this one,” Messi said. “It’s at the end of my career, the cycle is closing.
“With the national team, I achieved everything I always dreamed of. I achieved everything in my career, individually. It was about closing my career in a unique way.
“I never imagined all this would happen to me when I started and to get to this moment has been the best. I have no complaints and I couldn’t ask for more.
“We’ve won the Copa America [in 2021] and the World Cup, there’s nothing left.”
As well as putting in some outstanding performances, Messi grabbed the headlines as he took on a more vocal role as Argentina’s leader in Qatar.
The Paris Saint-Germain star memorably celebrated a quarter-final goal against the Netherlands in front of Louis van Gaal before calling him “disrespectful” in a post-match interview, while he called striker Wout Weghorst “crazy” after the same. game.
Messi admits he is not proud of some of his behavior at the tournament, adding: “I knew what Van Gaal said but [the celebration] happened immediately.
“I didn’t like what I did, I didn’t like what happened after that. It’s nervous moments and everything happens very quickly.”