In almost the last breath of his unrepeatable sporting career, football has recognized Leo Messi and at the age of 35 he has finally succeeded in being crowned world champion. He has needed five World Cups, since the first in Germany in 2006, to lift the champion's cup. Messi missed the trophy in Brazil, in 2014, against Germany, who won 1-0 with a goal from Gotze in extra time. But this time in Qatar, La Pulga, in a heart-stopping game resolved through penalties, managed to get the cup on the plane to Buenos Aires.
The best footballer in the world for more than a decade won all the possible awards, except for the one officially called the Jules Rimet Trophy and which Luis Enrique recently colloquially defined as el troncho - literally, that tough part in the middle of the cabbage - in a notable moment in his new capacity as a streamer. Lionel Messi had won a Copa America and an Under-20 World Cup with Argentina; he has four Champions Leagues, three Club World Cups, three European Super Cups, ten Spanish Leagues, eight Spanish Super Cups and seven times the Copa del Rey during his stay at Futbol Club Barcelona. To all this we must add an exceptional individual record, he is a seven-time winner of the Ballon d'Or, has won six Golden Boots, was six times the top scorer in the Champions League, as well as a Fifa World Player award, a The Best award, eight times pichichi with the most goals in the Spanish League and endless other prizes.
But the World Cup had not arrived and time was running out. It was like a curse, it had become abnormally difficult for Argentina to bring together its great players into a compact, united, competitive team, with options, who believed in victory. And that's how the team presented itself in Qatar at the hands of Lionel Scaloni, who, at only 44 years of age and with short experience as a coach, has achieved what the albiceleste had not for many years. Few had confidence in this team, much less when they lost 2-1 to Saudi Arabia in the first group stage match.
It was the only defeat of the championship and Argentina now has its third World Cup. Messi equals that achievement by Maradona, rises to his Olympian level and thus breaks a tie between the two that was really only justified by the World Cup that El Pelusa had achieved in 1986. World Cup history makes a space for Messi and although the French team had two players from Futbol Club Barcelona - Koundé and Dembelé - the reality is that the heart was not divided and Argentina's victory was experienced by people across Catalonia, and in a very special way among Barcelona fans, as their own. Something normal with a player who started at the club at the age of 14, played there for 20 years and only because of a series of mistakes ended up at Paris Saint Germain.
The Qatar World Cup will be remembered as Messi's World Cup and his natural substitute on the football Olympus, Kylian Mbappé, will have to wait until 2026 to be crowned the best player in the world in a championship that will be played for the first time across three different countries: Canada, Mexico and the United States.