Can we now call Messi the GOAT? Leo finally ends Argentina curse

FT Desk
  • FT Desk
  • Updated: July 11, 2021, 11:10 CEST
  • 4 min read
Lionel Messi lifts 2021 Copa America trophy for Argentina

Sixteen years of pain are over – Lionel Messi has finally won a major trophy for Argentina!

Throughout his legendary career with Barcelona - during which he has broken virtually every club record possible – Messi’s failure to lift either the World Cup or the Copa America had always hurt him.

Before Sunday he had played in four major finals – and lost all four of them. This included the 2014 World Cup final when Argentina heartbreakingly lost in extra time to Germany.

After losing his third Copa America final in 2017 to Chile, a frustrated Messi even retired from international football before being convinced to return.

It seemed as though he was destined to end his international career trophyless.

Is Messi now the GOAT?

And with that came the argument that Messi could never be considered the greatest footballer of all time if he didn’t win the World Cup or Copa America.

Is Lionel Messi the GOAT?

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Unlike Diego Maradona, who virtually single-handedly led an ordinary Argentina side to World Cup glory at Mexico ’86, Messi had been unable to match his late countryman’s exploits in the Albiceleste shirt.

Even Cristiano Ronaldo fans would take pleasure in pointing out that their idol had inspired Portugal to victory at Euro 2016.

Now that stick can’t really be used to beat Messi with.

Argentina’s 1-0 win over hosts Brazil at the Maracana has ended the curse.

The victory was clinched by Angel Di Maria’s delightful lob from a brilliant Rodrigo De Paul through pass.

While Messi was not at his brilliant best on the day, there could be no doubting his influence on the tournament as a whole.

He ended the Copa America as joint-top scorer with Colombia’s Luis Diaz on four goals and as top assist man with five assists.

This saw him named as joint-Player of the Tournament along with Neymar.

His relief and happiness at finally winning a trophy with Argentina was palpable as he called his family on the pitch.

What did Messi say after winning Copa America?

"It's crazy, the happiness, the feeling is inexplicable. I knew that at some point it was going to happen," Messi gushed. “The objective was clear and we were able to be champions. The happiness is immense. Many times I have dreamed of this.

"I told Fideo (Di Maria) that today he was going to have his revenge and that's how it was. I want to share this with those team-mates 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 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."

So Messi is finally a champion with Argentina. Could he now complete the final level and put the cherry on top of his incredible career by winning the World Cup next year?