Argentina s forward Lionel Messi stands next to a statue of himself during a tribute by Conmebol to Argentina for their Qatar 2022 World Cup title, held before the draw for the Libertadores and Sudamericana football tournaments group phases, at Conmebol s headquarters in Luque, Paraguay, on March 27, 2023. AFP
South American soccer's governing body on Monday presented the the 35-year-old Argentine star a with statue, which will be placed in the CONMEBOL museum next to those of legendary players Pelé and Diego Maradona.
Messi also received replicas of the World Cup and the Finalissima trophy, which Argentina won against Italy, during the ceremony before the Copa Libertadores draw. His teammates and coach Lionel Scaloni received miniature trophies as well, including that of the 2021 Copa America lifted in Brazil.
“We are living a very special and beautiful moment, getting a lot of love,” Messi said during the tribute. “It was time for a South American team to win the World Cup again.”
Argentina beat Panama 2-0 on Thursday in Buenos Aires in its first international friendly since winning the World Cup title in Qatar last December. Scaloni's team will face Curacao on Tuesday to celebrate with its fans in the countryside city of Santiago del Estero.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)