After leading Argentina to Copa America title glory, an emotional Lionel Messi reflected on the scale of his achievement.
Lionel Messi knew he would eventually win something with Argentina and feels ‘immense happiness’ after doing just that in the Copa America.
Despite his many club honors, a FIFA U-20 World Cup title in 2005, and an Olympic gold medal in 2008, Messi had never won a major international honor with the Argentina senior team until Sunday.
The 34-year-old had come agonizingly close in the past, having lost four finals – three in the Copa America (2007, 2015, 2016) and once in the World Cup (2014). In fact, he almost retired from international football after his last Copa America final defeat in 2016 to Chile.
But to his credit, Messi came back and was utterly astonishing throughout the 2021 Copa America to help Argentina reach the final and then beat Brazil 1-0 in Sunday’s final.
💙 Deserved adulation for a man who was utterly astonishing at the @CopaAmerica 🏆
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) July 11, 2021
The victory over the tournament hosts sealed Argentina a first title since 1993, while Messi sunk to his knees at the final whistle before his teammates mobbed him.
“It’s crazy, the happiness the feeling is inexplicable. I knew that at some point it was going to happen,” said Messi on TyC Sports.
“The objective was clear, and we were able to be champions. The happiness is immense. Many times I have dreamed of this.”
Angel Di Maria, who scored the only goal of the match, revealed how Messi told him this would be his final after missing several big matches due to injury.
“I told Fideo [Di Maria] that today he was going to have his revenge and that’s how it was,” continued Messi.
“I want to share this with those teammates who were so close so many times and it was not given to them. This is also for them.
“I feel that God was saving this moment for me, against Brazil in the final and in his country. Great credit has to go to [the coach] Lionel [Scaloni]. He always wanted the best for the national team. He knew how to put together a winning team and he deserves your appreciation.
“I needed to get rid of the thorn of being able to achieve something with the national team. I had been very close for many years. I knew that at some point it was going to go wrong, it was going to happen and I think there is no better moment than this.”
Argentina have now moved level with Uruguay for a record of 15 Copa America titles after claiming their first trophy since 1993.