The 1978 World Cup-winning Argentina coach hailed Messi’s role in Argentina’s Copa America triumph…
Former Argentina player and coach Cesar Luis Menotti suggested that the legendary Diego Maradona would have been extremely proud of Lionel Messi and co. who recently won the Copa America 2021 title in Brazil. La Albiceleste, under Messi’s captaincy, won the Copa America title after a gap of 28 years after beating arch-rivals Brazil 1-0 in the final.
This was also the first senior international title in Messi’s career. Speaking on Argentina’s Radio Villa Trinidad, Menotti suggested that Maradona, who passed away in November 2020, would have been ecstatic with joy had he watched Argentina play at the Copa America 2020.
Menotti suggested that Maradona would’ve cried along with Messi after seeing Argentina lift the title.
“Diego, if he were still here, would have been very happy with this title. He would have been out there hugging Messi and there would have been tears,” stated Menotti.
The Argentine great further praised Messi for leading the national team to glory and suggested that the Barcelona star is enjoying a great run of form at present.
“Messi is at the top of his game. He’s happy and not just about the win, but also because he’s surrounded by people who love him. Messi did amazing things for this team. Messi is a player who, unlike others, is prepared to win a match, to make his teammates play well and make his team play well.
He added, “It’s also complicated being Messi, you know. He’s at his best in every sense – emotionally and physically. He’s a boy who’s always prepared.”
Menotti was the coach of Argentina Under-20 side, which had Maradona in their ranks, which won the World Youth Championship in 1979 at Japan. He also coached Maradona at Barcelona during the 1983-84 season. Menotti was also the coach as Argentina won their first ever World Cup in 1978 when they famously defeated Netherlands 3-1 at Buenos Aires.
How did Messi perform at Copa America 2021?
The Argentina skipper scored four goals, provided five assists and had a direct contribution in nine out of Argentina’s 13 goals in the tournament. He won the Best Players Award of the tournament and was the joint top scorer with Colombia’s Luis Diaz.
During the course of the tournament, Messi surpassed his former Argentina and Barcelona teammate Javier Mascherano and became the most-capped player for Argentina. He currently has 151 international caps for La Albiceleste.