·28 March 2023
·28 March 2023
ionel Messi has been honoured with a statue at the South American Football Federation headquarters after leading Argentina to World Cup success.
The 35-year-old, who last week scored his 800th career goal in a friendly win over Panama, has also had Argentina’s training complex renamed after him.
Holding a replica of the World Cup trophy, Messi stood beside the life-size statue at an unveiling ceremony at the CONMEBOL headquarters in Luque, Paraguay.
The 35-year-old emulated the late Maradona by leading Argentina to their first World Cup triumph in 36 years in Qatar in December.
"I had never dreamed or thought about this," Messi said. "My dream was to enjoy what I liked when I was little, to be a professional soccer player, to do what I always loved in this life.
"I had a very long road, many decisions and defeats, but I always looked ahead and wanted to go for a triumph, for a victory.
"I think that is the most important thing, to fight for your dreams, that everything is possible and to enjoy the game, which is the most beautiful thing there is."
The Argentina players and coach Lionel Scaloni also received miniature trophies of the World Cup and the Copa America, which they won in 2021.
Messi has scored 99 goals for his country and would become the first Argentina player to net 100 international goals if he scores in Tuesday's friendly against Curacao.
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