A statue of Lionel Messi was unveiled in Buenos Aires last year during Argentina’s campaign to convince him to reconsider retiring from international football.
The sculpture can be found on the banks of the Rio de la Plata, where a host of other statues honouring Argentine sports stars, including San Antonio Spurs great Manu Ginobili and ex-Formula One champion Juan Manuel Fangio, are located.
It was only right for Messi to be featured on Glory Walkway. After all, he’s a global icon and widely regarded as the greatest footballer in history.
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However, the Barcelona man won’t be planning on visiting his monument anytime soon.
That’s because it’s not there any more. It’s been taken away after being destroyed by unidentified vandals.
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Messi’s likeness was cut in half, with just his bottom half and the football attached to his left foot remaining. The Buenos Aires government have since announced that it has been taken away to be repaired and eventually restored.
"The statue of Lionel Messi fell victim to an act of vandalism that left the footballer's sculpture without its top half," the Buenos Aires government said, per Goal.
"The City Government is now working on its repair."
Messi has done plenty for Argentina
Presumably, some Real Madrid fans decided to rub salt into Messi’s wounds after Cristiano Ronaldo beat him to the FIFA The Best Men’s Player award.
All jokes aside, it’s quite a shame that Messi’s statue has been destroyed. The Barcelona star has done so much for Argentina, leading them to four finals, although his critics will highlight the fact that he wasn’t able to win any of those finals.
Messi: I love my country too much
Of course, Messi did return to international football following his emotional collapse at the Copa America Centenario final.
"A lot of things ran through my head on the day of the [Copa America] final,” Messi said in a statement, per ESPN FC. “And I seriously considered leaving the team. But I love my shirt and my country too much.
"I want to thank all the fans who wanted me to keep playing for Argentina. I hope we can give them joy very soon."
World Cup hopes
At the age of 29, Messi doesn’t have too many opportunities left to win an international tournament. The 2018 World Cup presents his next chance, but there’s no guarantee Argentina will even be at the tournament.
The Albiceleste are currently fifth in South American qualifying, needing to finish in the top four to secure automatic qualification to Russia.
Will Messi ever win an international tournament? Let us know in the comments section below!