Amidst all the celebrations with Italy defeating England in the 2020 UEFA Euro Cup finals, arguably the best soccer player in the world, Lionel Messi, was claiming his first ever international title at the 2021 Copa America finals.
Argentina claimed victory over their supposed rivals, Brazil this past Saturday, making it the first time in 28 years since the country won an international title back in 1993. Angel Di Maria scored the winning goal, but the leadership and stellar skills of Messi is what really brought the Albiceleste to victory this year. This was more than just a win for Messi, it represented strength, courage, and passion for his beloved Argentina.
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This year marks 15 years since Messi first joined Argentina’s national team in 2005. At only 17, he was the youngest Argentinian player to ever play and score for his country. Messi has represented Argentina at the:
- 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018 World Cup
- 2007, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2019 and 2021 Copa America
Over his 15-year career with the Albiceleste, he’s scored 76 goals in 151 international appearances, making him the country’s all-time top scorer. In 2014, Argentina lost 1-0 against Germany in the World Cups finals during extra time. In both 2015 and 2016, Argentina lost against Chile in penalties. Messi has suffered many heartbreaks with his nation, but this year he’s finally earned his long-awaited trophy!
2021 Copa America
During this years Copa America tournament, Messi accomplished:
- Best Player Award
- Golden Boot Award
- 4 goals, 5 assists (total of 12 goals)
- Played all 630 minutes
- Most chances created (21)
- Most shots on target (11)
- Most shots (28)
Messi played with so much heart and passion during this years final and his emotions were laid out on the field when the final whistle blew. He dropped to his knees in tears when he realized he had just won his first international title after a decade and a half!
This was also the first time since 2011 that Messi played against Brazil and PSG star, Neymar. The former FC Barcelona teammates were seen embracing one another as they both shared heavy emotions over the game. Neymar said:
“Losing hurts me, it hurts me…it’s something I haven’t learned to live with yet. Yesterday when I lost, I went to give a hug to the biggest and best in history that I’ve seen play. My friend and brother Messi, I got sad and told him ‘son of a b*tch, you beat me’ I’m too sad to have lost. But this guy is crap! I have a lot of respect for what he did for football and especially for me. HATE TO LOSE!!! But enjoy your title, football was waiting for you at this moment! CONGRATS HDP BROTHER.”
10 For #10
This was Messi’s 10th international tournament with Argentina. Diego Maradona who was recognized world-wide as one of the greatest players of all time, represented #10 with Argentina for many years; Messi also wears #10. Maradona won the 1986 World Cup over Germany and till this day is recognized for that victory. Maradona died of a heart failure last November, and this year Argentina honoured him at their opening game against Chile.
Maradona was the coach of Argentina from 2008 to 2010 and at the time, Messi was a star in the making. Although they were complete opposites, there was always respect, admiration and a lot of affection between two legends and arguably the best footballers in history. This win for Argentina was written in the stars, and who better to deliver it than another legendary #10, Lionel Messi.
It is now being reported by ESPN that Messi just signed a new contract to return to Barcelona, extending his time with the team for another 5-years.