DOHA, QATAR –
Maybe it’s his age. Perhaps it was his excellent form for Paris Saint-Germain. Perhaps it was the Copa America title that ended last year’s drought.
But there is something different about Lionel Messi at the World Cup – a fact he himself admits. He’s relaxed, he’s happy, he couldn’t stop smiling during a rare appearance at a news conference on Monday.
The pressure seems to have been lifted off the shoulders of one of the greatest footballers of all time.
Look out for the remaining teams in Qatar, starting with Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.
“I don’t know if this is the best moment of my career, but I feel very good,” Messi said. “Can be a little more mature, always try to give your best and enjoy everything, live this World Cup to the fullest and enjoy every moment.
“I didn’t think about it before – I just wanted to play and then think about the next game – and sometimes I missed out on a lot of things. Now I know a little more.”
With 22 of Argentina’s 26 men competing in their first World Cup – two of them Thiago Almada and 21-year-old Enzo Fernandez – it’s no surprise that Messi feels like a veteran of the team. at the age of 35.
And again, he said it was “likely” to be his last World Cup, even if that element of doubt might spark more optimism among Argentine fans about the tournament. in 2026 in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Can Albiceleste go there as the owner? Maybe, because Messi is reminiscing about 2014 when Argentina reached the World Cup final – only to lose to Germany in the final.
It seems that winning the Copa America to end the 28-year wait for a major title has really given Argentina confidence, as well as a 36-match unbeaten streak stretching back to 2019.
“We’ve just won a competition and that’s reassuring,” Messi said through an interpreter. “It helps you work in a different way, you don’t feel nervous. People don’t put a lot of pressure on you.
“This squad really reminds me of 2014. We’re very united and clear on how we want to play. It’s great to be here in such good form, because it gives you confidence. believe so.”
A local reporter told Messi that he loved him. The former Barcelona star was even applauded during the press conference, which was confined to an auditorium in a convention center in Doha.
Expect a similar response across Qatar over the next few weeks.
“I’m happy about all the love I can feel from every corner of the world,” he said, twinkling.