Whatever happens between now and the end of his extraordinary career, Lionel Messi can happily retire safe in the knowledge that he inspired Argentina to an international title.
The 34-year-old had been desperate to win a trophy with Argentina since turning professional in 2004 and came agonisingly close on several occasions before winning the Copa America in the summer.
Messi had reached three Copa America finals prior to 2021 and also finished as a runner-up in the 2014 World Cup final. He must have feared that it would never happen for him.
But the six-time Ballon d’Or winner was magnificent throughout the summer’s Copa America in Brazil and deservedly lifted the trophy at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro on July 10.
The tournament’s top scorer and official best player was understandably filled with emotion after delivering his country a first international title since 1993.
Messi's warrior-like performance for Argentina vs Colombia
Arguably Messi’s best performance of the entire tournament came in a hard-fought victory over Colombia in the semi-finals in Brasilia.
Lautaro Martinez put Argentina 1-0 up early on before Luis Diaz equalised in the second half.
Messi was fantastic over the course of the 90 minutes, providing the assist for Martinez and posing a constant threat to the Colombians whenever he received the ball.
Colombia’s players knew if they stopped Messi, they would stop Argentina - and so they targeted him throughout the match.
Video: Messi's highlights for Argentina vs Colombia
But despite their rough treatment of the legendary forward, Messi produced a warrior-like performance as the following 30-second viral video shows…
Let’s check out some of the reaction to the video:
Players twice his size were literally bouncing off him.
He even sustained a nasty cut on his ankle following a challenge by substitute Frank Fabra but still played on to drag Argentina to the final.
Messi scored Argentina’s opening goal in the penalty shoot-out and then mocked Yerry Mina after the Colombian defender missed his.
He was a man possessed that night and produced a performance that will forever be remembered fondly by Argentine football fans.
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