Born in the city of Rosario, Lionel Messi’s fight began at the start of his football career. Fighting his way through growth hormone deficiency from an early age to reach the top of football with Barcelona, ââhe is still involved in conversations involving the best player to ever play the sport.
Looking back on his brilliant career, Messi’s trophy cabinet had everything a player could want at a club level. However, the lack of a title with the national team at the senior level created a void too big for the Argentine to escape despite his consistent excellence on the pitch for Barcelona.
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As Messi clinches the title at the end of the 2021 Copa America after defeating Brazil at the historic Maracana stadium in Rio, life is on end for the boy from Rosario as he offers his country his first international title since 1993 in a stadium where he had to suffer the crushing final defeat of the World Cup against Germany in 2014.
It was his Copa America. He was the driving force behind the Albiceleste’s stellar campaign as he racked up four goals and five assists en route to the final.
That victory, however, came after the heartache of losing four finals.
Copa America 2007
The string of disappointments began in 2007 when a young Lionel Messi saw his side lose 3-0 to a strong Brazilian side as Julio Baptista, a goal from Roberto Ayala and Dani Alves snatched the title from Argentina and extended his wait for a national title.
2014 World Cup
It was Argentina’s golden period under the leadership of Alejandro Sabella. Led by Messi, Argentina had the chance to win the World Cup title on Brazilian soil. But Germany once again broke Argentina’s heart as Mario Gotze’s 113th minute goal was enough for Germany to win the World Cup.
Lionel Messi and his teammates react after Germany’s 1-0 World Cup win in overtime at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. – AP
Copa America 2015
The next heartbreak came in 2015 when Argentina and Chile drew 0-0 and the game ended in penalties. Argentina lost that shootout and what made it even more bitter for Messi was the fact that he couldn’t convert his shot on goal. Gonzalo Higuain and Ever Banega also missed their respective penalties.
Argentina’s Lionel Messi reacts after Argentina’s Gonzalo Higuain missed his penalty against Chile in the Copa America final in 2015 – AP
Copa America 2016
Argentina faced Chile again in 2016 in the Copa America Centenario final in the United States of America. The game was tied again after extra time, forcing a penalty shootout. As fate would have it, Messi would miss his penalty and Chile were crowned champions for the second year in a row.
Messi announced his international retirement after this defeat, to reverse his decision a few months later.
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As Argentina rejoices in their first title after 28 years of heartbreak, the country will remember Messi’s exploits – a story of many ups and downs and how the quiet No.10 carved his moment, overcame multiple setbacks and almost single-handedly led his country to a record 15th Copa America title.
Amid all the celebrations, Argentina will also be remembered for another number 10 who overcame all odds to win the most prestigious title in football for the country – a certain man named Diego Armando Maradona.