• World Cup 2022

Pele remembers Maradona in a touching message to Messi & Argentina

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The three-time Brazilian World Cup winner saluted the new world champions and sent messages to Mbappe and Morocco.

Pele has congratulated Lionel Messi for his ‘deserved’ first World Cup triumph in Qatar, adding Argentina’s success would have delighted his old friend, the late Diego Maradona.

The 82-year-old, hospitalized since the end of November, shared a message on social media after witnessing Argentina beat France on penalties in Sunday’s World Cup final to end a 36-year wait for glory.

“Congratulations Argentina! Certainly Diego is smiling now,” Pele wrote on Instagram.

“Today, football continues to tell its story, as always, in an enthralling way. Messi winning his first World Cup, as his trajectory deserved.”

Maradona, who died in November 2020 aged 60, was the driving force behind Argentina’s last World Cup triumph in Mexico 1986.

Pele sends messages to Mbappe & Morocco

Argentina lifted the famous trophy after finishing 3-3 against France in Lusail before winning 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out.

While Messi took home the Man of the Match and Golden Ball awards, Pele reserved special praise for Golden Boot winner Mbappe, who became the first player to score a World Cup final hat-trick since England’s Geoff Hurst in 1966.

The 23-year-old scored two penalties and a brilliant volley to help France come back from behind twice to force the final into penalties. He also converted his spot-kick at the beginning of the shoot-out.

“My dear friend, Mbappe, scoring four goals in a final. What a gift it was to watch this spectacle to the future of our sport,” Pele said.

Mbappe finished his second World Cup campaign as the tournament’s top-scorer, managing eight goals and two assists in seven games for France.

As for Morocco, who became the first Arab and African nation to reach the semi-finals with a fourth-place finish, Pele added: “And I couldn’t fail to congratulate Morocco for the incredible campaign. It’s great to see Africa shine.”