Messi and his journey with Argentina: Light at the end of the tunnel after 28 years

After failing to lift the Copa America title on three separate occasions, Lionel Messi's Argentina has finally brought the title back home after 28 long years.

Lionel Messi kisses the trophy after beating Brazil 1-0 in the Copa America 2021 final   -  AP

Born in the city of Rosario, Lionel Messi's fight began from the very start of his football career. Fighting his way through a growth hormone deficiency from a young age to reaching the pinnacle of football with Barcelona, he is always involved in conversations involving the best player to have ever played the sport.

Looking back at his sparkling career, Messi's trophy cabinet had everything a player could wish for at a club level. However, the lack of a title with the national team at a senior level caused a void too huge for the Argentine to escape despite his consistent excellence on the pitch for Barcelona.

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As Messi lifts the title at the end of Copa America 2021 after beating Brazil at the historic Maracana Stadium in Rio, life comes full circle for the boy from Rosario as he gifts his country its first international title since 1993 at a stadium where he had to undergo the crushing World Cup final defeat against Germany in 2014.

This was his Copa America. He was the driving force behind the stellar campaign of the Albiceleste as he racked up four goals and five assists on his way to the final.

This win, however, came after the heartbreak of losing four finals.

Copa America 2007

The string of disappointments started in 2007 where a young Lionel Messi saw his team lose 3-0 to a strong Brazil side as Julio Baptista, an Roberto Ayala own goal and Dani Alves snatched the title away from Argentina and extended its wait for a national title.

World Cup 2014

This was Argentina's golden period under manager Alejandro Sabella. Spearheaded by Messi, Argentina had the chance to lift the World Cup title on Brazilian soil. But Germany broke Argentine hearts yet again as Mario Gotze's 113th minute goal was enough for Germany to win the World Cup.

Lionel Messi and his teammates react after Germany's 1-0 World Cup victory in extra time at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.   -  AP

 

Copa America 2015

The next heartbreak came in 2015 as Argentina and Chile played out a 0-0 draw and the match went to penalties. Argentina lost that shootout and what made it even more bitter for Messi was the fact that he could not convert his spot-kick. Gonzalo Higuain and Ever Banega also missed their respective penalties.

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Argentina's Lionel Messi reacts after Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain missed his penalty kick against Chile during the Copa America final in 2015   -  AP

 

Copa America 2016

Argentina faced Chile again in 2016 at the Copa America Centenario final staged in the United States of America. The match was tied after extra time once again, which forced a penalty shootout. As fate would have it, Messi would go on to miss his penalty and Chile was crowned champion for the second consecutive year.

Messi announced his international retirement after that defeat, only to reverse the decision some months later.

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As Argentina rejoices its first title after 28 years of heartbreak, the country will remember Messi's exploits- a story of numerous up and downs and how the quiet number 10 carved out his moment, overcame multiple setbacks and almost single-handedly led his country to a record-equalling 15th Copa America title.

Amidst all the celebrations, Argentina will also remember another number 10 who overcame all odds to win football's most prestigious title for the country - a certain man named Diego Armando Maradona. 

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