Nearly a year on from lifting his home country’s third World Cup trophy, Lionel Messi opened up on his path to the title for Argentina in Qatar.
After defeats in the 2014 World Cup final as well as the 2015 and 2016 Copa America finals, there were many critics of the Argentina star.
But as Messi said in an interview for the documentary ‘Champions, a Year Later’ for Disney Star+, the Inter Miami captain now says he’s beloved back home.
‘I had a bad time. My family and the people who love me did too. [Critics in Argentina] were very unfair to a generation of players and they said a lot of bad things about me. I’m not spiteful,’ Messi revealed.
‘I feel it like a triumph for me to have changed that situation and won over all the people of Argentina. Today 95% or 100% of Argentines love me and that’s a beautiful feeling.’
Lionel Messi called it a ‘triumph’ to win back the hearts of his fellow Argentinians
After repeated failure in tournaments, Messi hoisted a Copa America and a World Cup
Messi said that winning the World Cup with La Albiceleste was ‘the only thing that eluded me’
Making his debut for La Albiceleste in 2005, Messi lost the finals of the Copa America in 2007, 2015, and 2016.
He had also come close to a World Cup title in 2014 before falling to Germany in extra time of that tournament.
But the man known as the ‘Little Flea’ won his first international crown with Argentina in 2021 – beating rivals Brazil to hoist the trophy.
Of course, Messi also added more to his cabinet when he captained La Albiceleste to a win over France on penalties in the World Cup final – fulfilling a life’s dream.
‘It is the thing most everyone desires. Everyone dreams big and the biggest is to be world champion with your national team,’ Messi said.
‘I was lucky to achieve everything at the club level with Barcelona and also at the individual level. This was the only thing that eluded me.
‘There are very few players who can say that they have achieved everything and thanks to God I am one of them.
‘If you put in the effort, sacrifice, work and humility, in the end, you achieve your goals,’ he added. ‘The road can be hard, but you have to keep fighting for your dreams to try to achieve them. I always loved playing football, coming to the national team and being on the field, but I never enjoyed it like today.’