Lionel Messi and his Argentina team-mates certainly suffered, but they finally got their hands on the World Cup trophy on Sunday, after beating France on penalties in arguably the biggest final in the tournament’s history.
It’s a moment that will never be forgotten and Argentina’s heroic players could barely sum up their feelings after the full-time whistle.
“I’ll never forget it. We had to suffer but we deserved to win,” Argentina’s Rodrigo De Paul said after the game, according to Reuters.
“We beat the last champions, it’s a joy that I can’t put into words. I am proud to be born in Argentina and today we are on top of the world.
It was a thrilling night of action inside the Lusail stadium with Kylian Mbappé scoring two late goals to nullify Argentina’s 2-0 first-half lead.
Messi then appeared to have scored a winner in extra time with his second of the game but Mbappé, bit between his teeth, forced the game on penalties after completing his hat-trick from the spot in the 118th minute.
Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez was, once again, on hand to save his country in the shootout, fending off Kingsley Coman’s effort before Aurelien Tchouameni overshot his effort.
Martinez, who had already saved two penalties in his side’s quarter-final win over the Netherlands, was also named goalkeeper of the tournament after a string of impressive performances in Qatar.
He was brilliant on Sunday, pulling off a superb save in the dying moments of extra time when it looked certain Randal Kolo Muani would score the winner.
“It was a game where we suffered,” Martinez said, according to Reuters.
“There couldn’t be a World Cup I dreamed of like this. I was calm during the penalty shootout.
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni, who guided the team through ups and downs at Qatar 2022, was emotional after the game and struggled to hold back tears as he was embraced by his players.
“I can’t believe we suffered so much in a perfect match. Unbelievable, but this team responds to everything,” Scaloni said, according to Reuters.
“I’m proud of the work they’ve done. It’s an exciting group. With the beatings we received today, with the draws, it makes you emotional.
“I want to tell people to enjoy, this is a historic moment for our country.
“It is above all an incredible pleasure. To be at the top like we are now is something unique.
Messi, who was mobbed by his teammates when Gonzalo Montiel converted the winning penalty, was instrumental in his side’s famous victory but the future is bright for Argentina with a number of impressive young stars.
Chief among them was midfielder Enzo Fernandez, who was crowned the tournament’s best young player.
“It’s a moment that I will never erase from my life,” Fernandez said, according to Reuters.
“Having the chance to win the World Cup with my country is priceless. Let’s take the cup and celebrate together.