Pele salutes World Cup winners Messi and Argentina – 'Certainly Diego is smiling now'

By Sports Desk December 18, 2022 835

Brazil great Pele sent congratulations to Argentina after their breathtaking World Cup final victory, describing Lionel Messi's success as the moment "his trajectory deserved".

Pele, confined to hospital recently, has been attentive to events at Qatar 2022 and said Argentina's trophy win would have delighted the late Diego Maradona.

The big moment for 35-year-old Messi means he finally has a World Cup victory to his name, matching compatriot Maradona who was the driving force behind Argentina's Mexico 86 triumph. Maradona died in November 2020 at the age of 60.

"Congratulations Argentina! Certainly Diego is smiling now," Pele wrote on Instagram.

There was sympathy from 82-year-old Pele for Kylian Mbappe, who finished on the losing side despite scoring two penalties and a stunning volley to complete only the second hat-trick in a men's World Cup final, after Geoff Hurst's 1966 treble for England against West Germany.

Argentina lifted the trophy after a 3-3 draw on Sunday, winning the penalty shoot-out 4-2 after misses from Kingsley Coman and Aurelien Tchouameni.

Messi scored twice in a classic match before both he and Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Mbappe converted penalties at the beginning of the shoot-out.

The Golden Ball, for the tournament's best player, went to Messi for a second time, while Mbappe finished as top scorer with eight goals, earning the Golden Boot.

Three-time World Cup winner Pele hailed Mbappe's feat of hitting the back of the net four times, including the shoot-out, and he also offered praise to Morocco, who finished fourth after becoming Africa's first World Cup semi-finalists.

"Today, football continues to tell its story, as always, in an enthralling way," Pele said. "Messi winning his first World Cup, as his trajectory deserved.

"My dear friend, Mbappe, scoring four goals in a final. What a gift it was to watch this spectacle to the future of our sport.

"And I couldn't fail to congratulate Morocco for the incredible campaign. It's great to see Africa shine."

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Last modified on Monday, 19 December 2022 01:18
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