Messi statue to stand next to Maradona, Pele at CONMEBOL museum

Lionel Messi

FILE – Argentina’s Lionel Messi poses with a statue of him holding the World Cup during the Conmebol event. REUTERS/Cesar Olmedo/

Lionel Messi stepped out of Diego Maradona’s shadow by leading Argentina to last year’s World Cup and a statue of the diminutive striker will stand next to statues of his predecessor and the great Brazilian Pele at the Museum of the Confederation of South America.

Messi, holding a replica of the World Cup trophy, stands next to the life-sized statue during the inauguration ceremony at South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) headquarters in Luque, Paraguay before the draw for the group Copa Libertadores on Monday.

The 35-year-old imitated the late Maradona when he led Argentina to its first World Cup title in 36 years in Qatar in December.

“I never dreamed or thought about this,” Messi said. “My dream is to enjoy what I loved as a child, to be a professional footballer, to do what I have always loved in this life.

“I’ve come a very long way, with many decisions and setbacks, but I’m always looking ahead and I want to aim for a win, for a win.

“I think that’s the most important thing, fighting for your dreams, that anything is possible and enjoying the game, that’s the most beautiful thing.”

The Argentine players and coach Lionel Scaloni also received small trophies of the World Cup and Copa America which they won in 2021.

The Argentine football federation renamed the national team’s training facility after Messi on Saturday, two days after he scored his 800th career goal in a 2-0 win over Panama.

Messi has scored 99 goals for his country and will become the first Argentine player to score 100 goals for the national team if he scores in Tuesday’s friendly against Curacao.


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