BUENOS AIRES ( Associated Press) – Star Lionel Messi admitted he regrets his World Cup clashes with coach Louis van Gaal and Dutch players and acknowledged Mexico was the “toughest” opponent in the tournament.
In his first interview since winning the World Cup, the Argentina captain referred to the controversial quarter-final match in which he dedicated a goal to the then Dutch coach – with both hands over his ears – and he insulted striker Wott Verghorst. The already famous phrase “What are you looking at, fool? Get over there”.
“I didn’t like what I did, I didn’t like what happened next,” Messi told Buenos Aires radio station Urbana Play on Monday. “These are moments of great tension, of great anxiety. Everything happens quickly and how do you react. Nothing was planned, it just happened.”
La Albiceleste defeated the Netherlands 4–3 in a penalty shootout.
The duel was marked by several controversies. In the preview, Van Gaal castigated his South American rivals by saying that his players would be better prepared if there was a penalty shootout. He also recalled that “Messi didn’t touch the ball” in the semi-final of the 2014 World Cup, which Argentina won via penalties.
Messi said his teammates informed him of the European coach’s statements as a way of encouraging him. “I knew everything that was said before the game, what he had said. Some of my classmates would say to me: ‘Did you see what he said? Did you see what Van Gaal’ declared?”
Regarding the crossover with Verghorst, the author of the two goals with which the Netherlands tied the game and forced extra time, Messi explained that “it was natural.”
“I reacted like this. A lot had happened with that player and a few more, tense moments, crosses… I was in mixed territory lately,” he said.
“I don’t like to leave that image, but these things happen,” the Paris Saint-Germain star closed out the episode.
In another part of the interview, Messi analyzed that “in general we were better than our rivals” during the World Cup, but described Mexico as “the most difficult”.
“It was the game we played the worst because everything winning that game was yes or yes,” he said, referring to the fact that Argentina lost 2-1 in their debut against Saudi Arabia. and was forced to defeat the Mexicans. To continue with your chances of winning. qualify for the next round.
“One trusted that we were going to have a good time, that things were going to work out for us (but) if we didn’t have the (human) group that we had, it would have been difficult to overcome,” he said. disclosed.
Messi also said that “I’ve never seen a final again” against France. La Albiceleste prevailed in the penalty shootout to win their third World Championship, and first since 1986.
“From that day everything changed for me,” said the 35-year-old footballer, who eventually became world champion in his fifth participation. “Fortunately the dream we had had come true, which is what I wanted so much in my career and it has come to an end.”
He assured that he would like the legend Diego Maradona – who died in 2020 – to present him with the trophy.
Messi said, “That pitch would have been great too.” “I believe that from above (by heaven) both he and the many people who love me and wish well for me were strong in this World Cup.”
When the interviewer asked the Argentina captain what he would say to Messi who came to Barcelona as a child, the star replied that “something extraordinary awaits him, which he could not even imagine. It will be a beautiful road, with tough moments that he will have to overcome but never give up on his dreams as he will get his most desired reward in the end. He is going to have a happy ending to his film.”