Five Years Ago Today, Lionel Messi Experienced The Saddest Moment In His Football Career
Lionel Messi suffered one of the biggest heartaches of his international career five years ago today as Argentina lost 1-0 in the 2014 World Cup final against Germany.
Mario Gotze scored in extra-time at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro to fire Germany to their fourth World Cup title.
But the Barcelona superstar, 32, came so close to leading Argentina to a World Cup and his first piece of major silverware on the international stage.
Unlike Argentine legend Diego Maradona, whose inspiring heroics fired his country to their last World Cup in 1986, Messi was unable to drag his side kicking and screaming over the finishing line.
Messi's disappointment was perfectly captured by photographer Bao Tailiang, who took one of the most famous pictures in modern football.
The photographer captured an image for Chengdu Economic Daily of the Argentina captain longingly looking at the World Cup trophy ahead of the final ceremony.
Tailiang's picture was voted the best sports image of 2014 and took home the prize in the Sports Singles category in the 2015 World Press Photo Contest.
Messi didn't walk away from the competition empty-handed as he took home the Golden Ball, which was awarded to the World Cup's top player.
But ex-FIFA president Sepp Blatter said at the time that he was a "little bit surprised" the five-time Ballon d'Or winner won the Golden Ball.
The Argentine ace was disappointed with how the final played out, saying that he didn't "care about the prize."
He told Spanish newspaper Diario AS: "I wanted to take Argentina to the World Cup for all the people."
Messi suffered another heartbreak in the 2018 World Cup as his side were dumped out of the competition in the last 16 in a 4-3 defeat to France.
But the Barcelona captain has admitted that his World Cup dream is not over, despite the fact that he would be 35 when the 2022 tournament kicks off in Qatar.
"God will say if we look at it or not," he told TyC Sports.
"It would be the ultimate [feat]. It's the biggest dream I have yet to fulfil.
"Being so close to that  World Cup was terrible, because we deserved to be able to lift it.
"It was the ultimate moment for that generation.
"We had an impressive group. It's getting tougher; nobody gives you anything and not conceding goals is so important."
Will Messi win a World Cup with Argentina before he retires?
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Featured Image Credit: PA