Lionel Messi is a six-time world footballer, incredibly rich and yet: unfinished, close to despair. At least when it comes to his country. That’s over: Messi finally brings Argentina a long-awaited title. It was high time.
There are things that money cannot buy: satisfaction, for example. Recognition. Great, long-awaited titles with the national soccer team. Even if you are Lionel Messi and have actually earned the 139 million euros annually that circulate as a salary for the Argentine. No, Messi always had to take care of satisfaction, recognition and the big titles himself, his enormous fortune could not heal the wounds that tore four lost finals at the big tournaments of world football. The six-time world footballer is a global superstar, admired by millions, rich and remarkably unsuccessful and unsuccessful with his national team for many, many years. It’s all over: Messi, without a club for almost two weeks, led “his” Argentina into his fourth final of the Copa America. And in the final against arch rivals Brazil, of all places, in Rio, it finally worked: 1-0 for Argentina, the unfinished is complete.
With four goals and five assists, Messi had led the “Albiceleste” into the final. “I was close many times,” he told reporters visibly emotionally after the final. “I knew it would happen at some point. I am grateful to God that he gave me this moment, in Brazil against Brazil. I think he saved this moment for me.” He, that is still God to Messi and most Argentines. But Diego Maradona, the godlike redeemer of the country’s football, comes right behind him. And about Messi. Also because he gave the country what Messi has never been able to give: a great title. In 2016 he failed on penalties in the final against Chile, then even announced, deeply disappointed: “That’s it, my time in the national team is over.” Two months later, of course, the mutual longing for one another was already too great, Messi returned.
Messi was missing what Maradona had
“After the difficult years of dictatorship and the defeat against England through football, Maradona managed to regain pride, national self-confidence and an identity,” the reporter Lucho Olivero once told the “Spiegel”. “Thanks to Diego we walked around the world for ten or twelve years with puffy chests because he gave Argentina and the planet so much joy.” Olivero remembered the 1986 World Cup, which Maradona had won with deceit transfigured to divine will and sheer brilliance.
Messi, on the other hand, failed four times in finals, he always left tears and despair: three times at the Copa, once, in 2014 against Germany, at the World Cup. This is one of the reasons why he stood and stands in the shadow of “El Dies”, the divine Maradona. It was precisely his mixture of ingenuity and – if you want to put it benevolently – shrewdness that Messi lacked, said author Gustavo Grabia: “That’s deeply Argentine, that’s us, that’s how we get on. We always loved him for that, Leo has something like that Messi doesn’t and never will. ” And what Messi, the brilliant superstar who had not failed to survive, was missing: a title for Argentina. Until the weekend.
After receiving the Copa America trophy, Messi spoke to his family over the phone on the pitch. He held the gold medal up to the camera and shouted: “I won, I won.” It was above all his victory, because in Argentina he was considered by many as a “conejo”, a “rabbit”, a sporty lightweight in the world of Maradona. The hunt for the title, against all internal and external imponderables, became for Messi an obsession and a burden at the same time. Like Maradona, Messi always had to shoulder the expectations and hopes of an entire nation. The burden of genius. In 2018 everything became too colorful, even for Maradona: “It’s time to leave him alone. He is not to blame for the fact that we are not world champions,” said the idol to his people. And he suggested to Messi to save himself the stress and to step back from the “Albiceleste” for good. It turned out differently.
“I would like to dedicate this success to my family who have always given me the strength to keep going, to my friends who I love so much, to all of the people who support us, and above all to the 45 million Argentines who have such a hard time with this one Had a fucking virus, especially those who hit the hardest, “wrote the superstar, who is currently without a club, on Instagram on Sunday. “Thank you God for everything you gave me and thank you for making me an Argentinian!”
“We thank God,” but especially Messi
The proud football nation Argentina had to wait 28 years for their 15th continental title. It must have been painful, sometimes excruciating, all the failure while the Brazilians won title after title at the biennial tournament, and even Uruguayans, Chileans and Colombians were able to lift the trophy in the air. “I took out a thorn that had been stuck for a long time. It’s a game that will go down in history. Not only because we have the title, but also because we won in Brazil,” quoted the “kicker” Messi. In the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, the almost holy cities of Brazilian football, it was not Messi who made the 1-0 victory clear, but Angel di Maria. The attacker from Paris St. Germain – and in most of Messi’s now 152 internationals at his side – decided the game in the 22nd minute.
Di Maria is also one of the Argentine generation around Messi who are believed to be golden, and he too experienced all the humiliations. He missed the 2014 World Cup final in Maracanã due to an injury. “We have been criticized so often, but we just kept going. We thank God,” commented di Maria. But above all, they thanked Messi, after the final whistle, the Argentine players stormed their superstar and threw him into the air. Messi’s role for the Argentine team should not be overestimated. Up to the final, he was involved in 80 percent of his team’s tournament goals and the association also named him “Player of the Tournament”. Now Messi Maradona, who was largely responsible for Argentina’s second World Cup triumph as captain in 1986, is no longer inferior, at least after titles with the national team. The adored one could never win a copa. The national expectations have been met. “The fame is paid,” was the headline of the Argentine football paper “Olé” and continued: “Football owed you this. The jersey demanded this of you.”
“The greatest and best in history”
On the opposing side, in the yellow jersey, apart from the Argentine cheers, another superstar was left crying. But also Neymar, who, like Messi, excelled in the tournament, in a not very respectable final but without much luck, recognized the greatness of the moment: “Losing hurts me, it hurts me. It’s something I haven’t learned to live with yet “wrote the Paris St. Germain striker on Instagram. “Yesterday when I lost I went to hug the greatest and best in history I ever saw play. My friend and brother Messi, I was sad and said to him, ‘Damn it, you hit me. ‘ I have a lot of respect for what he did for football and especially for me. I hate to lose! But enjoy the title, football has been waiting for this moment. Congratulations brother. “
Now Messi has also given his country a title, the impressive vita of the 34-year-old has been richer by a major trophy. The one he chased for so long, the one who had so often snatched from his nose. With redemption, however, there is by no means a drop in voltage, that is not. “If you win, you have to take advantage of this momentum,” Messi sent a declaration of war while still triumphant. “It’s easier when the results are with you. We have to take advantage of this win and this selection of players.” He told his teammates, “They are the national team of the future and I was right. They proved it by winning this Copa. We’ve been working together for a while. It’s a great group of guys am happy to be part of this group. ” Messi wants Argentina to take their form to next year’s World Cup in Qatar. Then he will be 35 years old. Perhaps he took the penultimate chance for a big title, and the last one should not pass by unused.
At home in Barcelona they want to extend today rather than tomorrow, preferably the day before yesterday anyway with their satisfied idol. Alone: There is not enough money. In order to offer Messi a new contract, FC Barcelona must save money. Lot of money. The talk is of 200 million euros. Messi, it is assured quickly and everywhere, would like to sign when the time comes. Every day on which he is nowhere under contract costs him around 100,000 euros, as the French sports paper “L’Équipe” has calculated. With the Copa title in your pocket and Qatar in mind, that should be bearable.