Lionel Messi wins the ultimate prize: What the Argentina and France players said | Football News


NEW DELHI: The party in Argentina is going to go on until Lionel Messi lands back home with his team, holding the FIFA World Cup trophy aloft.
An evening of epic proportions saw Argentina end their 36-year wait for a third World Cup title, which seemed won by them on several occasions during the final on Sunday, until it was sealed in a penalty shootout (4-2) after France‘s late fightback led by Kylian Mbappe‘s hat-trick.
Lionel Messi scored for Argentina from the spot in regulation time, besides Angel di Maria’s strike. But Mbappe lifted France in the last 10 minutes of regulation time with two goals to make it 2-2. The extra-time saw Messi putting Argentina ahead again, but Mbappe locked it once more at 3-3.
As put by Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez and some of his team-mates, “it was a game where we suffered”, until Messi kissed and lifted the trophy amid tears of joy in his last World Cup game.
Here’s how the players reacted:
“We’re champions of the world!” exclaimed Messi on the stadium microphone.
“I want to keep experiencing a few more matches as world champion,” the 35-year-old Messi told Argentine television following the country’s epic win in Doha. “It’s amazing that it could end this way. I said previously that God was going to grant me this and I don’t know why, but I felt it was going to be this time.
“Obviously I would like to end my (World Cup) career with this, I cannot ask for more,” said Messi. “My (playing) career is nearly over because these are my last years.
“It was a very strange match, the same as the other one against the Netherlands (in quarterfinals), and then when we went ahead in extra-time, it happened again.”
“It was a game where we suffered. Two crappy shots and they (France) levelled. They give them another penalty, they scored. Thank God, later I did my thing, what I dreamed of. There could not have been a World Cup that I have dreamed of like this. I was calm during the penalties,” said Martinez.
LIONEL SCALONI (Argentina coach)
“I cannot believe that we have suffered so much in a perfect game. Unbelievable, but this team responds to everything. I am proud of the work they did. It is an exciting group. With the blows we received today, with the draws, this makes you emotional. I want to tell people to enjoy, it’s a historic moment for our country. We who live for this and who have been through the good and the bad are used to these things…Above all it is an incredible enjoyment. Being at the top as we are now is something unique,” Scaloni said.When asked about the possibility of Messi playing at the 2026 World Cup, Scaloni said: “If he wants to keep playing, he will be with us. He is more than entitled to decide whether he wants to keep playing for Argentina or not or what he wants to do with his career. He is such a huge player for us. It is such a pleasure for us to coach him and his teammates. Everything he transmits to his teammates is unparalleled — something I’ve never seen before.”
“It is a moment that I will never erase in my life,” said Enzo Fernandez, who won the ‘Young Player’ award. “Having the chance to win the World Cup with my country is priceless. Let’s take the cup and celebrate together.”
“I will never forget it. We had to suffer but we deserved to win. We’ve beaten the last champions, it’s a joy I cannot put into words. I’m proud of being born in Argentina and today we are on top of the world.”DIDIER DESCHAMPS (France coach)
“Obviously I am very sad…Some of the young players showed they are good enough for this level. There are others who were not here but will be involved in future.”
This World Cup has been “a passing of the baton between one generation (of French players) coming to the final stage of their careers to a new generation led by Mbappe.
“It is a very young group. We have also built our successes on defeats and so this group of players will bounce back. There is enormous potential.”


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