World Cup winner Lionel Messi regretted his testy exchanges with the Netherlands coach and players during their controversial quarterfinal in Qatar, he said in an interview aired on Monday.
Messi gave his first interview since lifting the trophy in December to radio Urbana Play of Buenos Aires. The Argentina captain spoke about the feisty clash with the Dutch which the South Americans won in a penalty shootout. A record 17 yellow cards were issued, including one to Messi for dissent.
When Messi scored from the spot in regular time, he stood in front of Dutch coach Louis van Gaal and cupped both hands to his ears. After the game, he gesticulated to the Dutch bench and insulted striker Wout Weghorst, who scored twice in regulation.
“I don’t like what I did, I don’t like what happened afterward,” Messi said. “These are moments of a lot of tension, a lot of nerves. It is very quick and people react the way they react. Nothing was planned, it just happened.”
That quarterfinal was surrounded by controversy. Before the encounter, Van Gaal said his players were better prepared than their rivals for a penalty shootout. He also said “Messi did not touch the ball” in the semifinal between the teams in the 2014 World Cup; Argentina also won that tie in a penalty shootout.
Messi said his teammates told him what Van Gaal said to stimulate him.
About his moment with Weghorst, Messi said it was “natural.” In the mixed zone after the match, Messi had snapped at the Dutch striker saying, “Qué mirás, bobo? Qué mirás, bobo?… Andá para allá,” which loosely translates to “What are you looking at you fool? Go away.”
“I reacted that way. There had been many things with this player, moments of tension like these . . . I was at the mixed zone, it had just happened,” Messi said. “I don’t like to leave that image, but these things happen.”
Messi also said Argentina “in general was better than its rivals” and picked Mexico, its second group opponent as “the toughest.”
“It was the worst match we played because of all the things involved in winning it or not,” Messi said. Argentina lost its opener to Saudi Arabia 2-1 in one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history, and had to beat Mexico to stay in playoffs contentions. Mexico was beaten 2-0.
Most Read 1Asian Games 2023 Day 10 Live Updates: Lovlina Borgohain qualifies for gold medal match, Abhishek-Ojas set up all-Indian archery final; bronze from Canoe sprint and boxing 2Navya Naveli Nanda makes her debut at Paris Fashion Week, Aishwarya Rai walks the same ramp. Watch 3After Tejasvi Surya asks Karnataka govt to reconsider carpooling ‘ban’, transport minister Reddy says apps need permission 4Jawan box office collection day 26: Shah Rukh Khan’s blockbuster refuses to slow down, nears Rs 1100 crore worldwide gross 5Vivek Agnihotri says he will ‘die’ if he even thinks of casting Alia Bhatt and Kangana Ranaut in a film: ‘I don’t have any such hobbies’
Messi said he has not watched the final against France. Argentina won the final on penalties to win its first World Cup title since 1986.
“Since that day, everything changed for me,” he said. “By luck, what we dreamed about so much happened. I wished that so much in my career and, at the end, it came.”
Also ReadWatch: Cristiano Ronaldo leads Al Nassr teammates, fans to Viking Clap ce…Ange Postecoglou, Tottenham Hotspur’s new coach: Inheriting football love…Big stage for big player: DY Patil to host Mumbai FC’s game against Neyma…Asian Cup prelims: India football coach Igor Stimac gave details of playe…
Asked what he would tell Messi in his childhood if he could, the star said: “Something extraordinary awaits, you can’t imagine. You will have a beautiful path, with some tough moments that you will have to overcome, but never give your dreams away because at the end you will get your most desired reward. Your film will have a happy ending.”