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July 12, 2021

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Messi ends Argentina frustration with Copa

Argentina finally made Lionel Messi cry with joy.

After losing four times in finals, early exits in major tournaments and even a decision to retire from the national team, Lionel Messi celebrated a much-awaited title with Argentina at Saturday’s 1-0 win against Brazil in the Maracana Stadium.

The title ended Argentina’s 28-year drought of major trophies, with Messi as the best player with four goals and five assists. The captain also broke the team’s record for international appearances with 151 matches.

“I needed to remove from myself the thorn of achieving something with the national team,” Messi said.

When Uruguayan referee Esteban Ostojich blew the final whistle, Messi knelt down on the pitch and covered his face with his hands. After he lifted the Copa America trophy, Messi said on the pitch and spoke to his family on the phone. He flicked the golden medal around his neck and shouted “I won, I won!”

Until Saturday, Messi’s titles with Argentina were only the U-20 World Cup title in 2005 and a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

His first frustration at the senior-team level started at age 19 in the World Cup quarterfinals elimination against Germany in 2006. One year later, he saw Brazil beat Argentina 3-0 in the Copa America final.

His next major shot at winning with Argentina came in the 2014 World Cup final against Germany. Chile would crush Messi’s hopes in two Copa America finals, in 2015 and 2016.

After the second defeat to Chile, Messi told journalists that the national team was over for him. But he returned, and on Saturday, Messi kissed the Copa America trophy and lifted it at age 34. The biggest gap in his decorated career is now closed.

“What a beautiful madness!,” Messi said in an Instagram post. “This is unbelievable! Thank you, God! We are the champions!”

“I was sad before, but I knew that at some point it was going to happen,” he said. “I feel that God was saving this moment for me, against Brazil in a final and in their country.”


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