Plenty of eyebrows were raised when, shortly after Argentina lost the 2014 World Cup final to Germany in Rio de Janeiro, Lionel Messi was handed the coveted Golden Ball accolade - the award handed to the tournament’s best player.
Messi appeared tired and a little off the pace during Argentina’s knockout matches, including the final, and many on social media voiced their opinion that one of the German players deserved the award more than the Barcelona superstar.
In fairness to the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, he looked totally nonplussed to receive the award and was clearly devastated after losing the biggest match of his career thus far.
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Disgraced former FIFA president Sepp Blatter handed Messi the award after the aforementioned World Cup final and has revealed how the Argentine reacted at the time.
It’ll come as little surprise to those who understand Messi’s character that he was berating himself for failing to win the only prize that mattered - in his eyes, anyway - that night.
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Blatter reveals how Messi reacted
Even Maradona said Messi didn't deserve it
Even Diego Maradona admitted after the 2014 World Cup that Messi didn’t deserve the award. In his opinion, it should have gone to Colombia’s James Rodriguez instead.
"I would give heaven and earth to Leo, but when marketing people want him to win something he didn't (deserve to) win, it is unfair," Maradona, the winner of the Golden Ball when Argentina won the World Cup in 1986, was quoted as saying by the Telegraph at the time.
"I could see that he didn't want to go up and collect it (the award)."
Messi was still one of the tournament's best players
Indeed, the modest Messi looked almost embarrassed to collect the prestigious individual accolade.
However, it should be noted that while Messi may not have been the tournament’s standout performer, he wasn’t far off it.
The 28-year-old was superb during the group stages and showed flashes of brilliance during the knockout rounds. Without him, Argentina would not have reached their first World Cup final since 1990.
Blatter: Messi is world's best player
Speaking about his thoughts on Messi, Blatter reveals that he regards the South American as the best player in world football ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo.
"You can't compare Cristiano with Leo Messi, who's now decided not to shave...," Blatter added. "Of course Messi is better! And, in addition, he'd be the perfect son-in-law. I like talking with him a lot, he's a good lad."
Will Lionel Messi ever win a World Cup? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
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