Messi says World Cup trophy 'called out' to him

football30 January 2023 19:11| © AFP

Lionel Messi won the World Cup because the sparkling solid gold trophy picked him to lift it, the Argentine star said in a radio interview aired on Monday.

The 35-year-old inspired his country to World Cup glory last month by scoring two goals and a penalty in the South Americans' shoot-out triumph over previous holders France following a thrilling 3-3 draw in Qatar.

"The cup called out to me, it told me: come and grab me, now you can touch me," Messi told the Argentine Urbana Play radio station.

"I saw it sparkling in that beautiful stadium and I didn't hesitate" to kiss it, he added, referring to the stunning Lusail Stadium in Doha, where the final was played.

Messi finally lifted the trophy in his fifth and final World Cup tournament, having lost in the 2014 final to Germany.

He also played in three losing Copa America finals before finally clinching that trophy in 2021.

"After so much suffering and lost finals, God kept it for me," said Messi of the World Cup.

He thus became the first Argentina captain since Diego Maradona in 1986 to lift the World Cup.

"I would have liked Maradona to hand me the cup, so he could at least see Argentina champions."

Maradona died of a heart attack two years ago.

"From up above he gave me strength, as did so many people who love me."

Many people expected Messi to retire, at least from international duty, after the Qatar triumph but he decided to continue so he could take to the field with his teammates as world champions.

However, he admitted that the end was close after a glory-laden career that saw him also win four Champions League titles and 10 LaLiga crowns with Barcelona, and a Ligue 1 trophy with Paris Saint-Germain, as well as the Ballon d'Or a record seven times.

"That's it, there's nothing left, I've achieved everything with the national team, with Barcelona, individually," he said.