After kissing the World Cup, Lionel Messi walked slowly toward his teammates while wearing a black Qatari robe over his blue and white Argentina jersey and held the golden trophy high into the air.
It was a legendary moment that cemented the soccer legend’s spot with the sport’s all-time greats.
Messi has finally achieved the pinnacle of his once-in-a-generation career by winning the World Cup.
After a 3-3 tie that included two goals by Messi and a hat trick by his heir apparent, France striker Kylian Mbappé, Argentina defeated France 4-2 in a penalty shootout to win its third World Cup.
It’s incredible how it really happened, Messi added. “I needed this so much. This was something I was certain God would give me. At the time of the 2014 World Cup, I knew it was the one.
Mbappé tried his best among the mayhem at Lusail Stadium to imitate Brazil’s great Pelé, who had won the World Cup in his first two attempts. Even more impressively, he scored the first hat trick in a championship game since England’s Geoff Hurst in 1966.
They needed more time.
No longer can this be argued. Messi is now a member of an exclusive group that includes three-time World Cup winner Pelé and the late, famous Argentina forward Diego Maradona, to whom Messi was often likened.
Which of the Greatest Is…? There’s no end in sight to this debate, since there is no right answer. Messi has made a strong case, and with a World Cup victory under his belt, he has surpassed Cristiano Ronaldo as the game’s finest player.
Messi won the World Cup for Argentina, same to what Maradona accomplished for Italy in 1986. After his squad suffered a humiliating 2-1 setback to Saudi Arabia in the group stage, he scored seven goals and took on the task of bringing his team out of the dark periods.
Inspired by Maradona, Messi led Argentina to victory by becoming the first player in World Cup history to score in the group stage, the round of 16, and the final.
Mbappé will eventually take over, but that time is not yet.
Let’s get it going, Argentina! Messi, who just played in his record 26th World Cup game, yelled into a microphone during the postgame celebrations.
His follow-up comment: “I can’t wait to be in Argentina to experience the lunacy of this”
On his way up to the platform to accept the Golden Ball for tournament MVP, Messi had a tantalising sight of the 18-carat gold World Cup trophy. He licked the World Cup and caressed it passionately.
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the emir of Qatar, threw a ceremonial robe over his shoulders and presented him with the crown. About 10 minutes later, he was able to take permanent possession of the crown. And did he ever take pleasure in sharing the occasion with his loved ones and the comrades that helped Argentina win the World Cup for the first time since 1986’s tournament in Mexico. The other national championship was won in 1978 on home soil.
Starting the game with a penalty kick after Angel Di Maria was fouled, Messi put Argentina on the board early and often. Following 36 minutes, he assisted on the team’s second goal, which Di Maria scored after a beautiful passing sequence.
Mbappé, on the other hand, was rather quiet until he scored twice in the space of 97 seconds to send the game into overtime tied at two goals each (a penalty in the 80th minute and a volley from just inside the area following a rapid exchange of passes) in the 113th minute.
Messi still had plenty of steam left in the tank, and he was there to tap in his second goal in the 108th minute, just before a France defender cleared the ball off the goal line. Argentina was about to clinch the championship for a second time, but Mbappé scored another penalty kick following a handball and sent the game into a dramatic shootout.
France coach Didier Deschamps remarked after the game, “We managed to come back from the dead.” France was trying to become the first side to repeat as champions since Brazil in 1962.
Mbappé and Messi both scored on their clubs’ first penalty shootout attempts. Argentina’s Emi Martinez made a stop from Kingsley Coman, while France’s Aurelien Tchouameni missed, setting up the game-winning goal for Gonzalo Montiel. As the crowd went crazy, he slotted the penalty to the left.
Argentina’s coach Lionel Scaloni, when asked whether he had a message for Maradona, who passed away two years ago, responded, “The match was utterly ridiculous.”
The European continent’s streak of four consecutive World Cup victories, spanning back to 2006, was ended. In 2002, when the event was held by Japan and South Korea, Brazil became the last South American champion.
Argentina defended their Copa America title, won in 2018, in Qatar. This was the country’s first major title since 1993. This is the crowning moment of Messi’s international career, which is far from done. After the game, he said that he will keep playing for the national team.
It was a memorable conclusion to a historic World Cup, the first to be held in Arab countries.
For the vast majority of viewers on Sunday, the only story that mattered was whether or not Messi could win.
Despite the best efforts of his Paris Saint-Germain colleague, the 23-year-old Mbappé, he was able to. Beating out the competition’s other goal scorers to finish with eight goals is perhaps just a little consolation.
Messi has been a man on a mission in the Middle East, intent on making amends for his poor performance in the 2014 World Cup final, which Argentina lost 1-0 to Germany.
Messi was heartbroken when he looked down at the World Cup trophy that night at the Maracana Stadium.
A decade and a half later, in the crowning achievement of a remarkable career, he hoisted it high.