Guwahati: Lionel Messi is finally a winner at the international level after finishing on the losing side in four previous finals – three times in Copa America and once in the 2014 World Cup.
Messi led Argentina to its first Copa America title in 28 years with a 1-0 win over Brazil in the high-pulsating final at the Maracana and picked up his first-ever title in a blue-and-white shirt after more than a decade of the club and individual honours.
Messi’s inability to win an international title with Argentina always left an asterisk beside his name on the all-time greats list. But that is now gone after an emotional Copa America final at the Maracana stadium decided by a first-half goal from Angel Di Maria.
The Barcelona striker has won the FIFA World Player of the Year a record six times and is widely considered one of the greatest players ever to play the game, alongside Pele and countryman Diego Maradona.
Messi finished the tournament’s joint-top goalscorer with four goals and was elected joint-best player along with Neymar. But he was quiet throughout and uncharacteristically missed a golden opportunity to wrap the game up with two minutes remaining.
Ardent Messi fans rejoiced on social media as the Barcelona star ended his international title drought on Sunday, calling him the official GOAT and demanding the seventh Ballon d’Or for the 34-year-old Argentine footballer.
Lionel Messi has been locked in a fierce battle among fans with Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo for the ‘Greatest of All Time’ (GOAT) tag, with the number of Ballon d’Or titles, goals, number of trophies becoming factors of discussion. A factor where the Juventus star led Messi was in international trophies, having won the 2016 Euro and the Nations League in 2019.
And with Messi finally ending his drought on Saturday, many believed that the ‘GOAT debate’ was over.
Following the victory, Messi was recognised as the tournament’s best player. Following the game, there was plenty of reaction as Messi’s legendary status was even further cemented.