If he wasn’t already, Lionel Messi became an Argentinian hero on Tuesday night.
Argentina had made a right mess in their World Cup qualifying campaign and went into their final match against Ecuador staring elimination in the face.
And the prospect qualifying for the Russia World Cup looked even more unlikely when they went 1-0 down inside the first minute.
But where there’s Messi, there’s hope.
And the Barcelona superstar booked a place on the plane to Russia for his entire nation with a superb hat-trick to earn a 3-1 win.
There’s one-man teams and then there’s Argentina.
Despite having the likes of Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Huguain and Paulo Dybala among their ranks, they still needed Messi to carry them to the World Cup.
But at least the players are fully aware of just how good Messi is.
After his incredible hat-trick against Ecuador, the players celebrated with him in the dressing room.
And they thanked him by breaking out a little chant.
“We love you Messi,” they started singing passionately.
Watch: Argentina players sing Messi chant
Take a look:
At least they appreciate the efforts of their hero.
While the whole of Argentina are grateful that they will be playing at the World Cup next summer, football fans from around the world should be glad that one of the greatest players to have ever played the sport will be there.
It would have been "crazy" for Argentina to miss out
And Messi himself believes it would have been “crazy” if his country had failed to qualify.
"Fortunately everything went well and we are into the World Cup," he said. "We are calm now after achieving the main goal -- that is the most important thing. All this time that we were away from the press, the fans helped us to be closer," Messi said.
"It would have been crazy a World Cup without Argentina, this group didn't deserve it. The team will change, will grow a lot and will come out stronger.
"It was a relief because we were in a tough spot. We got ourselves into this mess. It was not easy to play here, a lot of things happen from my mind when the 0-1 came, but the group overcame the situation very well and was quick to take the lead.
"There was some fear of missing the World Cup. We let pass a lot of opportunities and we had to decide our future in this game. We had to qualify, now it's time to enjoy."
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