The six-time Ballon d’Or winner, who left Barcelona for Paris this summer, finally got his hands on international silverware at the Copa America
Lionel Messi has admitted that landing Copa America glory with Argentina was the “most difficult” triumph of his trophy-laden career, with the Paris Saint-Germain superstar finally finding “peace of mind” at international level.
Having previously suffered final heartache at the 2014 World Cup and back-to-back Copas in 2015 and 2016, a six-time Ballon d’Or winner feared that senior glory with his country would never come.
He was, however, to inspire his nation to glory on Brazilian soil this summer, as he captained Lionel Scaloni’s side to a memorable victory, and the 34-year-old can now relax knowing that he has hit all of his targets in a remarkable career.
What has been said?
Messi has told ESPN of claiming the Copa America crown to sit alongside the enviable haul of honours he collected at Barcelona: “Everything I won was important and beautiful, but this was the most difficult because I went through many things. It was knock after knock.
“I finally had happy holidays from the first day to the last. Before I was bitter and now it was different from start to finish. My children sing Argentina songs all the time, they remember the final against Brazil and for me it’s spectacular to see how they enjoy that.”
Has Messi silenced any doubters?
While his standing as a modern day legend has been without question for some time, critics were quick to point to Messi’s lack of international honours when it came to any greatest-of-all-time debate.
Those questions irked an ambitious character, but he now has the medals to prove doubters around the world wrong.
He added: “I have peace of mind of having achieved the dream that has been denied to me so many times.
“It was like a dream, a spectacular moment. I couldn’t believe it had happened. I enjoy watching the images now more than at the time as I was in a daze. I didn’t quite understand what was happening.”
On reacting to painful defeats of the past, Messi said: “A part of the media treated us as failures, saying that we didn’t feel the [responsibility] of wearing the jersey, that we shouldn’t be in the national team.
“We tried to be champions before, we were the first ones to want to. It’s very difficult to win a World Cup or a Copa America. At the time they didn’t value what we did, they only put emphasis on the fact that we didn’t achieve the aim. The important thing is to feel satisfied that you have given your all…luckily, the last [final] was different.”