Most people agree that Lionel Messi is one of the best football players of all time. His dazzling skills, prolific goalscoring, and remarkable achievements have earned him countless accolades and fans around the world. But how did Messi become the legend he is today? In this blog post, we will explore Messi’s journey in international football over the past decade, from his highs and lows with Argentina to his historic World Cup triumph in 2022.
Messi’s odyssey began at a young age when he joined the youth system of Newell’s Old Boys, facing early challenges with a diagnosed growth hormone deficiency. In 2000, he ventured to Spain, sponsored by FC Barcelona, who not only nurtured his prodigious talent but also covered his medical expenses.
A pivotal juncture arrived in 2005 when Messi, having acquired Spanish citizenship, opted to represent Argentina. His full international debut against Hungary, unfortunately, saw him red-carded after a mere two minutes, a harsh initiation into the rigors of international play.
The World Cup became a recurring battleground for Messi’s aspirations and disappointments. In 2006, he dazzled in Germany, becoming Argentina’s youngest World Cup player and scorer, yet they succumbed to Germany in the quarter-finals. The 2010 edition in South Africa, under the guidance of his idol Diego Maradona, ended in a quarter-final thrashing by Germany, with Messi struggling to find his form.
In 2014, Messi propelled Argentina to the final in Brazil, securing a Golden Ball for his stellar performance. However, Mario Götze’s late goal shattered their dreams, leaving Messi visibly devastated.
Copa América mirrored Messi’s World Cup heartbreaks. In 2007, 2011, and 2015, Argentina reached the final but fell short, culminating in Messi’s tearful retirement. Despite his hiatus, he returned for the Copa América Centenario in 2016, only to endure another penalty shootout loss to Chile. Once again, he declared his departure from the national team.
A brief retirement ensued, but Messi couldn’t resist the call of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. His heroics against Ecuador secured Argentina’s qualification, but a 4-3 defeat to France in the round of 16 added to Messi’s international woes.
The turning point came in 2021 when Messi, at 34, lifted the Copa América, ending Argentina’s 28-year trophy drought. His Golden Boot and Golden Ball awards signified a personal triumph.
The pinnacle of Messi’s international career arrived in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The final against France, a rematch of 2018, unfolded as a spectacle. Messi’s two goals, including a stunning volley, contributed to a 3-3 draw in regular time. In the penalty shootout, Messi confidently converted his kick, witnessing teammate Emiliano Martínez’s save securing the World Cup title.
Messi’s international journey, a roller-coaster of emotions, reflects resilience, dedication, and an unwavering love for the game. From despair to joy, failure to success, and retirement to comeback, Messi’s story inspires millions, proving that dreams can be realized with perseverance. As Lionel Messi roared like a lion, he etched his name in history, leaving an indelible legacy as a true football legend.