Messi lifts Copa America 2021
“Cherish him, relish him while you’ve got him”, the words by Peter Drury at the Finalismma ring as the ‘Messiah’ of Argentina turn 35 today. The legendary career of Messi started in Argentina from the Newell’s old boys, from where he shifted to his ‘home’ Barcelona at the age of 13. Even though he spent most of his life in Spain, his love and passion for Argentina remained the same.
Messi is Argentina’s all-time leading top scorer (86 goals), top assister (47) and the player with the most appearances (162 matches). He became Argentina’s hero at the youth level by leading them to trophies at the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship and a gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics. He became Argentina’s youngest player to feature and score at the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
But Messi wasn’t lucky in his Argentinian shirt as heartbreaks in finals hunted him and Argentina, the first being the 2007 Copa America Final. He carried Argentina to consecutive Finals at the 2011 FIFA World Cup and the 2014 and 2016 Copa Americas. But late losses in the extra time and penalties eluded him from achieving a major trophy for Argentina. He shocked the world after announcing his retirement from International football after the 2016 Copa America. He later came back from retirement and took his country to the 2018 World Cup.
In 2021, the football gods decided to give Messi and Argentina what they deserved after their heartbreaks. They were crowned the 2021 Copa America after beating Brazil in the final in dominating fashion. They took 28 long years to win a major trophy after their 1993 Copa America Triumph. They later added the ‘Finalissma’ trophy into the row by winning against Italy in a matchup between the South American and European continental champions.
“I have seen the player who will inherit my place in Argentine football, and his name is Messi. Messi is a genius”, Diego Maradonna quoted on Messi, whom he was widely compared to. However, Messi was widely criticised for failing to duplicate the same success with Barcelona for Argentina.
Messi’s contributions speak volumes for his effort for the Argentina team. He was the golden ball winner at the 2008 Summer Olympics, 2014 World Cup, 2015 and 2021 Copa Americas. He won the golden boots at the 2008 Summer Olympics and 2021 Copa America.
His one-man shows helped Argentina reach finals after finals but failed to convert them into trophies. The famous commentary ‘Messi, just give it to him and pray’ at the 2014 World Cup is the hope for Argentina and millions of fans across the globe as they look forward to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Will the GOAT add the final piece of silverware to his rollercoaster Argentina career?