Argentina fans hail Messi after reaching World Cup final
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Lionel Messi will step out in the World Cup final on Sunday looking to banish the demons of eight years ago. The veteran was left broken after his country lost to Germany in 2014, insisting he’d give up all of his individual accolades for the ultimate golden gong. And that speaks volumes about his character as the icon looks to dance on the grandest of stages one last time…
It is almost written in the stars that Messi will complete his wonderful career by winning the World Cup, even if France represent the toughest test of the tournament so far.
The veteran has been in sparkling form in Qatar, scoring five goals to propel his country to the final where the defending champions lie in wait.
And Messi will be spurred on from the pain of 2014, when Argentina lost 1-0 to Germany courtesy of a late winner from Mario Gotze.
That year, the 35-year-old won the player of the tournament award – despite drawing a blank in the final.
And Messi admitted afterwards he’d give up everything he’s won before in favour of a World Cup trophy, showing how much he’s a team player – rather than someone who focuses on the individual prizes.
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He stated: “I would give all my personal records to be world champion.
“I’d prefer to win the World Cup than the Ballon d’Or. As a player, winning the World Cup is the biggest thing there is.
“It’s something you dream of as a youngster and that dream never fades away.”
Messi was devastated after Argentina saw their hopes of glory ended by Germany, who were very much the team of that competition.
He said: “I don’t care about the prize. I don’t care about anything.
“Right now, nothing can console me – not the award or anything else. I wanted to take Argentina to the World Cup for all the people.
“I believe this World Cup deserved another final because we had chances. We reached the final… but we’re disappointed not to have won this game. There’s a lot of anger.
“There is sadness to finish in this way, I think we deserved a little more today.
“The better chances were ours and between the forwards we couldn’t take them. We had three clear chances – mine, Pipa’s (Gonzalo Higuain) and Rodrigo Palacio, but we couldn’t get it.”
Now, Messi will be out to make his mark in a World Cup final at the second attempt.
He’s evolved since the 2014 defeat to Germany, adding to his huge trophy haul at Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.
And if Messi is able to inspire Argentina to victory, then many feel it would consolidate his status as the greatest footballer to have ever lived.
However, former Argentine star Ossie Ardiles thinks that mantle will always belong to Diego Maradona – regardless of what happens on Sunday.
“I wouldn’t say ahead of Diego, I will say maybe on level terms,” he said when asked what the victory would mean for Messi and his reputation.
“Messi is an absolutely wonderful, wonderful player.
“I have no doubt, by far, that he’s the best player of his generation, and of course he’s one of the very best in the history of football.
“But I would say that he can only go level with Maradona, and I personally would go for Maradona.
“Because when we played football I think it was much more difficult for a skilful player to play, so this is why I will say Maradona.
“He will always be a touch, touch, touch better than Messi.”
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