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Sunday, June 4, 2023

Messi statue to stand alongside Maradona, Pele

Lionel Messi’s statue will be displayed in the South American federation’s museum alongside that of his predecessor and Brazil legend, Pele.

Last year, the diminutive forward emerged from Diego Maradona’s shadow by leading Argentina to a World Cup victory.

Messi stood beside the life-size statue at the South American Football Federation (CONMEBOL) headquarters in Luque, Paraguay, holding a replica of the World Cup trophy.

The event took place prior to the Copa Libertadores draw on Monday.

In December, the 35-year-old emulated the late Diego Maradona by leading Argentina to their first World Cup victory in 36 years in Qatar.

“I had never dreamed or thought about this,” Messi said.

“My dream was to enjoy what I liked when I was little, to be a professional football player, to do what I always loved in this life. I had a very long road, many decisions and defeats, but I always looked ahead and wanted to go for a triumph, for a victory.

“I think that is the most important thing, to fight for your dreams, that everything is possible and to enjoy the game, which is the most beautiful thing there is.”

Argentina’s players and coach, Lionel Scaloni, also received miniature World Cup and Copa America trophies, which they won in 2021.

On Saturday, the Argentine Football Federation renamed the national team’s training facility after Messi, who scored his 800th career goal in a 2-0 friendly win over Panama the day before.

Messi has 99 goals for Argentina and would become the first player in history to reach 100 if he scores in Tuesday’s friendly against Curacao.


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