Lionel Messi fought through the pain barrier to help Argentina to Copa America glory, claims boss Lionel Scaloni… talisman played in semi-final and final despite hamstring injury
- Lionel Messi finally won international trophy with Argentina in the Copa America
- A 1-0 victory over arch-rivals Brazil saw Argentina lift the trophy at the Maracana
- Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni said Messi played in the final with hamstring injury
Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni said that Lionel Messi played through the pain barrier to help his side lift the Copa America.
Scaloni claimed that his captain played in the semi-final against Colombia and Saturday’s final with Brazil despite ‘hamstring problems’.
‘If you knew the way that he played in the Copa America you’d love him even more,’ he told reporters after the 1-0 victory over Brazil on Sunday.
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni embraces Lionel Messi after the Copa America final victory
‘You can never do without a player like him, even when he is not fully fit like in this game and the previous one.’
Messi finally celebrated winning a major title with his country 16 years on from his first cap after Angel Di Maria ‘s first-half lob secured a 1-0 victory over arch-rivals Brazil in the final at the Maracana.
An international trophy had for a long time been the only title left to win for the 34-year-old icon after suffering final heartache in three previous Copa America’s and the 2014 World Cup.
A 1-0 victory over Brazil at Maracana secured the first trophy of Messi’s international career
Amid the jubilant celebrations after finally breaking his duck, Messi told TyC Sports : ‘The truth is that this is crazy. There would be no better moment than this. The happiness is immense, I knew that at some point it was going to happen. The happiness I feel right now indescribable.’
‘After the last Copa I told these players that they will be the future of the National Team. I was not mistaken, and now today we are champions.’
‘I had a lot of confidence in this group, which has grown in strength since the last Copa America. They are a group of very good people, who advance and do not complain.
‘I’m very happy! I dreamed about this many times.’
Angel Di Maria (left) scored the winner for Argentina in the Copa America final against Brazil
Despite claiming virtually every trophy and record there is during his illustrious career at club level, the forward has been criticised for his lack of success with the national side.
Messi lost to Brazil in his first Copa America final in 2007, before twice losing on penalties to Chile in 2015 and 2016, missing in the shootout himself in the latter.
He also played an instrumental role in helping his side to the 2014 World Cup final before narrowly losing against Germany in extra time.
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