Messi wishes Maradona had witnessed Argentina's long-awaited World Cup triumph

By Sports Desk January 30, 2023

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 their fourth World Cup in Qatar last year, winning the Golden Ball 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 series of talismanic displays to lead them to glory at Mexico 1986.

During an interview in Paris with Andy Kusnetzoff, Messi said he regretted the fact Maradona – who coached him at the 2010 World Cup – was not alive to witness his crowning moment.

"I would have liked 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 – were strong."

While Messi had to wait until his fifth and likely final World Cup to lift the trophy, the legendary attacker says his triumph could not have come at a better time. 

"I think if I had to choose the moment, it would have been this one," Messi said. "It's at the end of my career, closing a cycle.

"I achieved everything with the national team as I always dreamed. I got everything in my career, individually. It was about closing my career in a unique way.

"I never imagined that all this was going to happen to me when I started, and getting to this moment was the best. I have no complaints and I can't ask for more.

"We won the Copa America [in 2021] and the World Cup, there's nothing left."

As well as producing several outstanding performances, Messi made headlines for taking 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 describing him as "disrespectful" in a post-match interview, while he also called striker Wout Weghorst a "fool" after the same game.

Messi admits he is not proud of some of his behaviour at the tournament, adding: "I knew what Van Gaal had said but it [the celebration] happened on the spur of the moment.

"I didn't like what I did, I didn't like what happened after. These are moments of nervousness and everything happens very quickly."

Related items

  • Poland 1-2 Netherlands: Weghorst the hero in comeback win for the Dutch Poland 1-2 Netherlands: Weghorst the hero in comeback win for the Dutch

    The Netherlands came from behind to beat Poland and start their Euro 2024 campaign with a 2-1 victory in Hamburg. 

    Substitute Wout Weghorst completed the turnaround for the Oranje late on, having gone behind to Adam Buksa's early effort. 

    The Poles would settle quicker than their opponents, and took the lead in the 16th minute as Buska rose highest to meet Piotr Zielinski's delivery into the box, the third consecutive goal the Netherlands have conceded from a corner kick, as many as in their previous 83 conceded goals.

    Despite record top-scorer Robert Lewandowski watching on from the bench, he would have been pleased by his side's start to the contest as they aimed to secure their first win over their opponents since 1980. 

    However, Gakpo hauled the Netherlands level with the aid of a deflection from Bartosz Salamon, his effort bouncing over the helpless Wojciech Szczesny. 

    Both sides continued to exchange blows in their search for an important three points ahead of France's meeting with Austria in Dusseldorf on Monday.

    But with seven minutes of the contest remaining, Weghorst emerged from the bench to score his seventh goal in his last 11 international appearances, finishing smartly after being picked out by Nathan Ake inside the box. 

    Data Debrief: Weghorst to the rescue as the Netherlands continue Poland streak

    Gakpo's strike took him into double figures for his nation, and he has now scored in each of his last four group stage games at the European Championships and World Cup, becoming the third European player to do so this century, after Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata.

    Poland are now winless in their last 13 meetings with the Netherlands in all competitions (D5 L8), since a 2-0 home win in EURO 1980 qualifying.

     

  • Scotland boss Clarke 'kicked backsides and gave cuddles' after Germany rout Scotland boss Clarke 'kicked backsides and gave cuddles' after Germany rout

    Steve Clarke says he had to "kick a couple of backsides and give some cuddles" after Scotland were thrashed by Germany in their Euro 2024 opener, but he is certain his team's self-belief remains intact.

    Scotland suffered the heaviest defeat in an opening game at any European Championship on Friday, being routed 5-1 by a rampant Germany team in Munich.

    Florian Wirtz, Jamal Musiala, Kai Havertz, Niclas Fullkrug and Emre Can all scored for the hosts, while Ryan Porteous was sent off for a horror challenge on Ilkay Gundogan.

    It was the first time Scotland had conceded five or more goals in a game since a 5-1 friendly defeat to the United States in 2012, and the first time in a competitive match since a 6-0 loss to the Netherlands in Euro 2004 qualifying 21 years ago.

    At the other end, meanwhile, Scotland failed to record a shot on target in a major tournament game for the first time since Euro 1992 (0-1 versus Netherlands).

    Asked what he had done in response to the defeat, Clarke said on Sunday: "Kick a couple of backsides, give some cuddles, make the players understand why the Germany result happened and make sure it doesn't happen again.

    "I've spoken to one or two players around the squad whose opinion I value. I had a good chat with a few of them.

    "I think their interpretation of what we asked them to do was wrong, so we've worked on that."

    Scotland must now pick themselves up for Wednesday's meeting with Switzerland, who began their own Group A campaign with an impressive 3-1 win over Hungary.

    The Tartan Army could lose their first two matches at a tournament (World Cup/Euros) for the fourth time, having done so at the 1954 and 1986 World Cups and Euro 1992.

    However, Clarke insists confidence in the camp is still high, adding: "We believe in ourselves, there's no danger of that. We know it was a bad night.

    "We have to accept all the criticism that comes our way and then we have to put it right. To be in football, you have to be very resilient."

  • Raphinha hits back after Mbappe's criticism of South American football Raphinha hits back after Mbappe's criticism of South American football

    Raphinha has responded to Kylian Mbappe's claims that the Euros are harder than the World Cup by reminding the Frenchman who beat them in the 2022 final.

    In an interview, Mbappe noted that France had not won the European Championships in 24 years, which is something he will be looking to change this year.

    That observation then led to him saying, "The Euros is a difficult competition, more than a World Cup. All the teams know each other, and the style of soccer is similar. Group stages are difficult."

    However, Brazil's Raphinha was not happy with the 25-year-old's comparison, pointing out that Argentina prevented them from winning the World Cup in 2022.

    "Unfortunately for him and fortunately for us, he lost a World Cup against a South American team," Raphinha said in a press conference ahead of the Copa America.

    The Barcelona winger also referenced other comments made by Mbappe from a couple of years ago. The new Real Madrid star implied World Cup qualification was easier in South America than in Europe, and suggested the football "wasn't as advanced".

    Raphinha added, "I would like to see the European teams playing in the South American qualifiers on the fields where we play. That's when I'd see if it's easy or hard."

    Brazil begin their Copa America campaign against Costa Rica on June 24, while France will face Austria in their Euro 2024 opener on Monday.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.