December 18, 2022 will be scripted in soccer history as Lionel Messi’s night. As fireworks exploded and some 80,000 people roared, Messi hoisted high the World Cup, a lifetime’s dream realised.
“It’s anyone’s childhood dream,” Messi said. “I was lucky to have achieved everything in this career… and this one that was missing is here. It’s madness… look how she (the World Cup) is, she’s gorgeous. I wanted her so much. I had a vision that this would be the one… she was getting closer.”
Having steered Argentina to a 2-0 lead which they blew in the final 10 minutes, he then put them ahead in extra-time, before finally converting his penalty in the shootout which they ultimately won.
It had taken five attempts, and a record 26 World Cup finals matches, but the boy from Rosario – the farm hub city some 300 kilometres north of Buenos Aires – finally delivered to lift himself alongside that other Argentina footballing deity, Diego Maradona, who had taken his nation to the title in 1986.
“We suffer, but we already have it (the World Cup),” Messi said. “I wanted to close my career with this, I can no longer ask for anything else, thank God, he gave me everything.”
Eight years ago in a World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro, Messi had been muted, not magical and had seemed wearied by the weight of expectation as Argentina fell in the final to Germany.
This time, though, the victory was the culmination of an extraordinary career, which has seen him voted the world’s best player a record seven times. He has won a Copa America, 11 league titles, four Champions League titles, three Club World Cups and three UEFA Super Cups. Now he has the most coveted one of all.
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