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Lionel Messi talks Maradona, Aguero, Van Gaal following World Cup win




It has been a little over a month since Argentina won the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar. The South American nation, led by captain and legend Lionel Messi, brought home the trophy after a long wait of 36 years.

Messi enjoyed a stunning tournament as he won the Golden Ball for the Best Player of the Tournament, while he also finished as the second-highest goalscorer in the competition.

The 35-year-old former Barcelona captain recently spoke with Andy Kusnetzoff on Perros de la Calle and opened up on his feelings after winning the one trophy that had eluded him all his career.

“On December 18, everything changed for me. What I dreamed of and wished for throughout my career, came true,” said Messi. “The World Cup trophy called me and said ‘Come and grab me, now you can touch me!'”

Argentina won the World Cup by defeating incumbent champions France on penalty shootouts in what was a thrilling finale in Qatar. Gonzalo Montiel was the player who scored the winning spot-kick in the shootout for Lionel Scaloni’s side.

Reminiscing what was going through his mind at the time of Montiel’s penalty, Messi said: “Before Montiel’s penalty, I prayed to God, who was with me throughout my career, that cachete [Montiel] would finish it so that he wouldn’t make us suffer anymore.”

There were many iconic moments over the course of the tournament in Qatar, but one lasting image that has stayed with fans is Messi’s celebrations cupping his ears in front of the Netherlands dugout after Louis van Gaal had aimed a dig at him before the match.

Recalling the moment and the celebration, Messi said: “It came out from me naturally. Some teammates had told me what Van Gaal said before the game. I don’t like to leave that image, but it came out like that, there was a lot of nervousness.”

Given what he had achieved, the outpour of wishes and congratulations for the Argentine international was always expected. And the former Barcelona captain revealed the extent of messages he received after the World Cup win, saying:

“My WhatsApp exploded after winning the World Cup. I started replying to my family, but then I was replying to messages for a couple of days. I had a million messages on Instagram, and they blocked me.”

Messi’s celebration against the Netherlands (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

“I still get emotional when I see videos on social media saying we are world champions,” he added.

The picture of him carrying the World Cup became the most-liked image on Instagram, breaking all sorts of records for likes and comments. Talking about it, the PSG superstar said: “I wasn’t looking to have the picture with the most likes on Instagram, or anything like that. People just wanted to see pictures of me with the World Cup trophy.”

“I’m the one who manages my Instagram account, not any company or other person,” Messi further revealed.

The 35-year-old became the first Argentina captain to win the World Cup after the legendary Diego Maradona. And Messi believes that his former national team manager, who passed away in 2020, was watching over him as he led the nation to the WC triumph.

“I think both Diego [Maradona] and a lot of people who love me from above were strong and encouraged me,” he said. “If Diego [Maradona] had been there, he would have given me the World Cup trophy. That photo would have been very nice,” he added.

On the toughest match that Argentina played at the World Cup, Messi picked the Group C encounter against Mexico, saying: “I think the most difficult match we played in the World Cup was against Mexico.”

“In all World Cup matches we were better than our opponents because we always knew what we had to do in each game. Our coaching staff prepared us very well,” he further added.

Talking about his appearance on former Argentina teammate and close friend Sergio Aguero’s stream, Messi said: “When Agüero told me to do the stream, he said he wanted to do a stream only with me. But I said ‘No, that would be too boring for people, let’s call the other teammates’. And Papu joined in, and others.

“The stream with Agüero came naturally. I liked it. I think it’s good to approach people that way. Let them see the reality of us, the day-to-day.”

Signing off, the Paris Saint-Germain attacker said: “God had it in store for me. And there was no better moment than this. The same with the Copa América. I thank God every day, I can’t ask more to God.”

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