When the crowning moment came, after an epic World Cup final, it wasn’t Argentina’s blue and white striped jersey fully visible on Lionel Messi.
The presentation of a bisht – a traditional black Arab coat – to be worn by the Emir of Qatar ensured that this defining moment in Messi’s career will forever be linked to that first Middle East World Cup.
Messi – the most illustrious employee of French Qatari team Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) – finally added the biggest prize in football at 35 years old.
It was the perfect end for Qatar after a 12-year World Cup journey, from bidding to final at Lusail Stadium – the centerpiece of the country’s £200billion transformation for this extravaganza. a month.
“I wanted it so much,” Messi said.
“I knew God would bring me this gift. I had a feeling this was the one.”
Fate was fulfilled for a player who had won every major European and global club honor with Barcelona, even when Qatar were so controversially awarded that World Cup by FIFA in 2010.
Beyond simple career longevity
For Messi, it’s more than a matter of career longevity.
This final showcased his enduring genius – adding two more goals to end Qatar 2022 with seven goals and three assists.
The penalty that put Argentina ahead midway through the first half made Messi the first man to score in every round of 16 at a World Cup.
There was a majestic flick of Messi in a smooth counter-attack that ended with Angel Di Maria sweeping the second before half-time.
Argentina would have been reeling for decades at the thought of ruining everything had it not been for the success of the shootout.
France were overwhelmed for 80 minutes without having a shot on target until Kylian Mbappé scored twice in two minutes.
Only the fingers of French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris prevented Messi from claiming glory before the end of regulation time.
When Messi brought Argentina back in front in extra time, they still had to recover from Mbappe by completing his hat-trick from the spot.
And in the shootout, neither Mbappe nor Messi ran away to claim the winning shot.
PSG teammates turned international rivals took their side’s first penalties.
But the two French misses proved costly. Argentina scored all four goals.
“I can’t wait to be back in Argentina for the madness”
Messi was able to leave the World Cup stage without any regrets.
No need to regret the missed opportunity of the 2014 final. No need to force a round trip in four years at 39.
The rest of his career – one of the greatest of all time – can unfold with a sense of satisfaction no matter how long he is on the pitch.
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Like Diego Maradona with Argentina in 1986, Messi will forever be a world champion – unlike arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo with Portugal – and an immortal footballer.
Messi – just like Ronaldo – didn’t need a World Cup win to prove his legendary status. Picking up the trophy just confirmed it.
Now to party.
“I can’t wait to be in Argentina to witness the madness of it all,” he said.