Lionel Messi’s World Cup triumph is not enough for him to surpass Diego Maradona as Argentina’s greatest player, according to Javier Zanetti.
Messi finally got his hands on the World Cup on Sunday after a thrilling final against France was settled on penalties at Lusail Stadium.
The 35-year-old scored twice in a thrilling 3-3 draw, before converting his penalty in the shoot-out, which Argentina won 4-2.
It was Argentina’s third World Cup and especially poignant considering this was the first edition since Maradona, who famously led his nation to glory at the 1986 tournament, died in November 2020.
While Messi’s performances in Qatar have cemented his place as the best player in history in the eyes of many, Zanetti feels he is still yet to outdo Maradona as Argentina’s greatest of all time.
Zanetti told Stats Perform: “No, not for me. I don’t like [the] comparison.
“We have to be grateful that the two greatest [players] in history are Argentines.
“I don’t think [Messi] has changed. I think he is more mature now and he was able to transmit his leadership to the rest of the group this time.”
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Argentina were pegged back twice by France, first surrendering a 2-0 lead as Kylian Mbappe struck twice before levelling again in extra time after Messi had put Lionel Scaloni’s men back in front.
Argentina’s 36-year wait to lift international football’s top prize again is the longest gap between a nation winning World Cup titles, and Zanetti believes the dramatic nature of their success made the victory even sweeter.
“It’s a great emotion that the lads gave us because we have been waiting for it for a long time,” Zanetti added.
“I think they made it happen, the dream of millions of Argentinian fans around the world.
“It was a great final for us Argentines because it seemed it was all going in our way but then France had a great reaction.”
Andres Iniesta, Messi’s former team-mate at Barcelona, was delighted the now Paris Saint-Germain forward finally got to lift the World Cup.
“Yesterday’s final was something spectacular, and that he [Messi] had the opportunity now to lift the World Cup is inexplicable,” Iniesta told reporters while visiting Barcelona’s training ground.
“Leo has done everything possible to achieve it. He has had a spectacular World Cup and the icing on the cake was incredible.
“I’m sure he feels maximum happiness.”
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