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Lionel Messi’s personal sacrifice to help Argentina finally win Copa America

Lionel Messi has finally won the first international tournament of his career as helped Argentina to victory over Brazil in Saturday’s Copa America final.

Angel di Maria’s first half goal was enough to separate the two sides at the Maracana and secure Argentina’s first international title since 1993.

The Argentine national team boss has now revealed that Messi was carrying a hamstring injury through the victories in the semi-final and final.

The 34-year-old did not find the net in either of the final two matches and spurned a glorious opportunity to seal the victory against Brazil late on but fluffed his lines in front of opposition goalkeeper Ederson.

Lionel Messi won his first ever trophy with Argentina as they defeated Brazil in Saturday’s Copa America final

Messi’s below par personal performance may now be explained through the fact he was carrying a muscular injury during the game – but was intent on playing in these defining matches.

Scaloni revealed to reporters after the final: “If you knew the way that he played in the Copa America you would love him even more. 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 has been playing with a hamstring injury against Colombia and Brazil, after getting a knock against Ecuador.

“In the end he did not throw in the towel and he succeeded. We are talking about the best footballer of all time and everyone knew how important it was for him to win a title with the national team.”

Scaloni also spoke of his working relationship with national team captain Messi: “It is different than the usual coach-player relationship. It is closer. We greet each other, we hug each other, and I am eternally grateful to him and his teammates.”

Asked what the Copa America trophy meant for Argentina – their first since 1993 and having lost four of the last five finals – Scaloni believed it was ‘huge’ for the nation.

He added: “It is a huge title, especially for our people. I hope that the Argentines enjoy it. The fans support the team unconditionally. I think they can identify with this team that never gives up.

“It was a very difficult Copa América. Luckily it was possible for us this time.

Does the Copa America cement Lionel Messi’s status as the greatest football ever? Comment below

“When we all move forward, it is difficult for us not to do well. We have a football culture that is difficult to find in other countries. When everyone lines up, great things can be achieved.

“The group understood what it is to play with this shirt – commitment and unity takes you forward.”

Matchwinner and the final’s man of the match: “We fell short so many times, we dreamt so much about this, fought so hard.”

“Many people said we wouldn’t manage it; we were criticised a lot. But we kept knocking at the door and kept going until today we knocked it down and entered.”




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