RIO DE JANEIRO: On Saturday, Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni paid tribute to Lionel Messi, complimenting his team captain and disclosing that he played with an injury in Argentina’s Copa America victory over Brazil.
Scaloni told reporters after Argentina’s 1-0 win at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, “If you knew how he played in the Copa America, you’d adore him even more.”
“You can never do without a player like him, even when he is not fully fit like in this game and the previous one.”
Scaloni did not reveal the nature of the injury, but he lavished praise on Messi on a night when Argentina celebrated their first international trophy in 28 years and Messi’s first win with the national team.
Messi has won every club and individual honour with Barcelona, but he had lost all four of his prior finals with Argentina. He has won the FIFA Player of the Year award a record six times.
The 34-year-old has shown his displeasure with the losses, quitting after losing the 2016 Copa America to Chile just to return a few weeks later.
“In the end, he did not throw in the towel and he succeeded,” Scaloni said.
“We are talking about the best footballer of all time and everyone knew how important it was for him to win a title with the national team.”
“I have a relationship that is different than the (usual) coach-player relationship,” Scaloni added. “It’s closer. We greet each other, we hug each other, and I am eternally grateful to him and his team mates.”