Football owes me, jokes Messi

The undisputed leader of the side and its mainstay throughout the preliminaries, Lionel Messi reflects on his World Cup qualifying heroics for Argentina.

"We’ll be in good shape when we get there (Russia 2018) because we’re still growing. We had to go through something that we didn’t expect or deserve."   -  Getty Images

Your team is 1-0 down in a do-or-die World Cup qualifier and nothing short of a win will do. Who do you look up to? Arguably the greatest player of all time, no less.

Trailing 1-0 to Ecuador in the final qualifying game, Lionel Messi scored a hattrick to ensure Argentina booked its ticket to Russia following a lacklustre campaign, which went down to the final 90 minutes for the South Americans to breathe a sigh of relief.

No one suffered more than Lionel Messi in the campaign, as he single handedly led his country to next year's summer showpiece.

"We’ll be in good shape when we get there (Russia 2018) because we’re still growing. We had to go through something that we didn’t expect or deserve, because we had earlier matches against Venezuela and Peru that we could have won easily," Messi said in an interview with FIFA.com.

The Argentine, who recently lost out on the Ballon d'Or race to Cristiano Ronaldo, will turn 30 next year. But the little magician says he feels better than ever.

"To tell you the truth, I never thought about how I’d be feeling when I got here (turning 30). But I’m very happy with both my personal life and football. I’d say I’m in good shape on and off the pitch. I’m very pleased with where I am right now."

'Football indebted to Messi'

After Argentina confirmed its passage for Russia 2018, coach Jorge Sampaoli had said football owed Messi a World Cup. Messi agrees.

"Yes, I did hear it, and he said it to me too. I hope football does end up paying me!" he said laughing.

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