Lionel Messi wins first Copa America after 28 years

Argentina's Lionel Messi

Argentina are the champions of Copa America. Angel Di Maria’s goal at the 22nd minute helped the Albiceleste overcome a resilient Brazil at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Argentina’s success at this year’s event marks the end of twenty-eight years of chasing continental success. It marks the end of Lionel Messi absence at the pecking order of players that have won trophies with their national teams.

The win as well elevates Barcelona star in the table of legends of the beautiful; game. Messi, a six-time Ballon d’Or winner has constantly failed to inspire the Argentines into continental glory. At a personal level, the Barcelona superstar has won almost all awards except with his national team. And if there was something that Messi has been waiting for then it’s 2021 Copa America success. Success comes to those who wait and here, finally makes it to the books of history. Argentina makes it after several years of disappointment as the side has seen them being eliminated a number of times from all major events despite having a star-studded team.

Brazil who has been the defending champions in Copa America will however have to blame themselves. Despite putting up a spirited fight to stop Argentina, the Samba Boys wasted numerous chances in front of the goal to hand over their bitter rivals a great chance to carry away the bragging rights from them. Brazil defeated Peru in the 2019 Copa America to add to their success at the continental dominance.

Lionel Messi elated

At the end of the match, Messi who has never won a major trophy with Argentina was dropped to the ground with joy taking control of him. He was then swiftly mobbed by his teammates before hurled in the air in a celebration mood. He had finally made it after appearing in the 10th major tournament for his country.

The Barcelona playmaker will however pay due credit to Angel Di maria. It’s of no single doubt that the Paris Saint-Germain proved the matchwinner status for the Argentines.

In contrast to emotions, Messi’s opposite number 10 and former Barcelona teammate Neymar sank to his knees in tears at the final whistle, as his own personal pursuit of international success continues, having missed Brazil’s 2019 Copa win through injury.

The pair, who played together at the Nou Camp between 2013 and 2017 before the Brazilian’s move to Paris St-Germain, embraced in a long-lasting hug while they waited for the trophy ceremony.

The game was watched by a small crowd of 7,000 invited guests, because of Covid-19 restrictions, but was the first of the tournament to have spectators in attendance.

The sparse home supporters made their voices heard, though, particularly every time Messi touched the ball, booing and jeering the forward.

The tournament, delayed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic and moved from initial co-hosts Colombia and Argentina, was switched to 2019 hosts Brazil in a last-minute decision which received criticism in light of a surge in coronavirus cases in the country.