CARL DE SOUZA/AFP via Getty Images
Paris Saint-Germain forward Lionel
Messi said he’s felt “peace of mind” since leading the
Argentina national team to the 2021 Copa America championship in
Messi, who tied for the tournament lead
with four goals and won the Best Player Award, told ESPN’s Adriana Garcia on Wednesday he was on
cloud nine after the triumph.
“I have peace of mind of having
achieved the dream that has been denied to me so many times,” he
said. “It was like a dream, a spectacular moment. I couldn’t
believe it had happened. I enjoy watching the images now more than at
the time as I was in a daze. I didn’t quite understand what was
The Argentine squad had come close at
major events on several occasions since Messi made his senior team
debut in 2005. It finished as the runner-up in Copa America three
times (2007, 2015 and 2016) and also reached the final in the 2014
While Argentina did win back-to-back
Olympic gold medals in 2004 and 2008, those events are contested
differently with mostly U23 players, so Messi and Co. still felt the
pressure to win a trophy on one of the sport’s biggest stages.
The 34-year-old told
ESPN coming up short in previous finals led the external pressure to
“A part of the media treated us as
failures, saying that we didn’t feel the [responsibility] of wearing
the jersey, that we shouldn’t be in the national team.
“We tried to be champions before,
we were the first ones to want to. It’s very difficult to win a World
Cup or a Copa America. At the time they didn’t value what we did,
they only put emphasis on the fact that we didn’t achieve the aim.
The important thing is to feel satisfied that you have given your
all…luckily, the last time [final] was different.”
Messi often came under fire for the
national team’s lack of success, in large part because his scoring
rate couldn’t match that of what he produced at the club level during
a decorated career with Barcelona.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner scored
672 goals in 778 appearances (0.86 goals per game) for Barca. He’s
tallied 76 goals in 152 matches (0.5 GPG) for La Albiceleste.
Finally capturing a major title helped
alleviate some of that pressure from his shoulders, and he credited
Argentine manager Lionel Scaloni for guiding the side to the
“Scaloni is one of us, he has
great merit,” Messi told ESPN. “It was he who selected the
national team, the one who believed, the one who took charge at a
difficult moment. He gave us confidence, he was bringing in new
people, he always knew what he wanted and we grew. From the Copa
América 2019 we took a leap.”
A month after Copa America, Messi
completed a shocking move from Barcelona to PSG to start a new
chapter of his club career. He made one appearance for Les Parisiens
as a substitute before returning to international duty with
La Albiceleste scored a 3-1 win over
Venezuela in World Cup qualifying last Thursday before Sunday’s
marquee clash with rival Brazil was suspended because of a COVID-19
The match was abandoned minutes into it after Brazilian health officials accused four Argentine players of breaking quarantine rules when entering the country.
Messi and Co. finish the international
window Thursday night when they host Bolivia.