Lionel Messi has a complicated relationship with Argentina.
Rightly or wrongly, you’ve always gotten the impression that the people of Argentina have not necessarily shown the sort of love for Messi that they have for legends like Diego Maradona.
That’s not inherently a bad thing, by the way, but it has been surprising at times to see some of the discontent with Messi in South America when you consider his generation-defining quality.
Messi’s relationship with Argentina
However, maybe that will all change in 2021 after Messi made history by finally winning his first piece of international silverware by leading Argentina to Copa America glory in the summer.
For all the trophies that the Paris Saint-Germain star has won across his career, you could tell that breaking his duck for Argentina with victory over Brazil was a triumph of even greater proportions.
But if you were to rewind back to 2015, Messi wasn’t to know that he would ever lift an international title in his career as he waded through a trying period of three final defeats with Argentina.
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Messi at the 2015 Club World Cup
By the time that Messi travelled to the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup with Barcelona, the serial Ballon d’Or winner had lost a World Cup and Copa America final in the space of just two years.
And as Barca looked to build on their 2015 Champions League triumph by becoming kings of the world in Japan, Messi had a very Argentinian meeting on his hands in the final on December 20.
That’s because the Blaugrana locked horns with River Plate of Argentina, who had won the most recent edition of the Copa Libertadores, in what promised to be an emotional clash for Messi.
In fact, that was so much the case that when Messi opened the scoring in what ultimately turned out to be a 3-0 win for the Catalans, he effectively apologised to the River Plate fans for doing so.
Messi apologises to River Plate fans
Although the Argentine initially celebrated with his Barca teammates, Sport reports that Messi proceeded to raise his hand apologetically to the 16,000 River Plate fans in Yokohama.
The Spanish publication claims that Messi explained in an interview with FIFA: “I know how much effort all those fans made in making that trip and how excited they were.
“And there was me, the Argentinian, scoring the first goal and ruining it all for them. I don’t know if I was actually saying sorry, but it was a type of apology.”
Then, when asked if he’d ever return to Argentinian football one day, Messi replied: “I had to leave at a very early age because of my situation and it didn’t happen.
“I had to go to Europe, start out with Barcelona and make my career there. But I would like to return to Argentinian football one day. What happens after that, only God knows.”
There really can’t be any disputing just what Argentina means to Messi and that couldn’t have been clearer than with his gesture of apology during such a tough period in his international career.
And while Messi might have felt that he had to apologise to Argentinian fans in many different ways during that point in his career, all the hard work paid off with Copa America glory this summer.