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Lionel Messi finally put an end to the conversation about never winning an international trophy a year ago, as he led Argentina to the Copa America.
La Albiceleste ended their dreadful record in finals with a narrow 1-0 win against Brazil, a year ago, as an Angel Di Maria strike in the 22nd-minute secured the historic win.
After losing seven consecutive finals since they last lifted the Copa America trophy in 1993, it was an emotional moment for Lionel Scaloni and his team and, as soon as referee Raphael Claus blew the full-time whistle, every single Argentina player rushed over to Messi.
The way they all rushed to celebrate with Messi after the final whistle like he just scored a goal. The love 🥺❤️pic.twitter.com/CmJ0PluRZs— Joga Bonito (@bagofnuts_) July 11, 2021
🇦🇷 🏆 Every Argentinian player went to celebrate with Messi after the final whistle.— Photos of Football (@photosofootball) July 11, 2021
What a moment! pic.twitter.com/prE4G0t26G
Messi, who had been a beaten finalist on four separate occasions in the past, was in tears after the final whistle. He then embraced former teammate Neymar and celebrated with his teammates, before calling his son on FaceTime.
Messi to his family: I did it. I finally did it. I did it Mana.— Saddick Adams (@SaddickAdams) July 11, 2021
(via Copa América) pic.twitter.com/HWbZJrqIOR
Nothing but respect for Neymar! Messi has been there 4 times ney! Greatest are those who stand tall after falling again and again! Ggs to Brazil for playing a mad 90 mins! And Neymar you have many years ahead of you! #CopaAmericaFINAL pic.twitter.com/KEPqiKgPjs— AM. (@akm_theone) July 11, 2021
After all the heartache in former finals, and all the near misses, and criticism of not winning an international trophy, Messi was clearly delighted at finally breaking his duck.
"The truth is that this is crazy," he told TyC Sports. "There would be no better moment than this. The happiness is immense, I knew that at some point it was going to happen. The happiness I feel right now indescribable.
"After the last Copa I told these players that they will be the future of the National Team. I was not mistaken, and now today we are champions.
"I had a lot of confidence in this group, which has grown in strength since the last Copa America. They are a group of very good people, who advance and do not complain.
"I'm very happy. I dreamed about this many times."
Messi had been the best player in the tournament, winning the Golden Ball prize to confirm it, and shared the Golden Boot prize for top scorer with Liverpool's Luis Diaz.
Finally winning the South American title also lead Messi to win a seventh Ballon d'Or title, beating Robert Lewandowski to the honour.
Shortly after the forward's life was turned upside down as he left Barcelona after a career spent exclusively at the Nou Camp, joining PSG where he didn't have a good season.
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