Lionel Messi has the chance to lift the World Cup on Sunday and it won’t just be the Argentinians cheering him on.
Kylian Mbappe and France stand in Messi’s way of sealing sporting immortality with the only trophy that’s always eluded him. He finished as a runner-up in 2014 and will be desperate to avoid the same fate at the Lusail Stadium in Qatar.
Having dominated the sport like no other over the past 15 years – winning a record seven Ballon d’Or in that time – Messi has picked up millions of fans across the world, including royalty from the world of football.
There are even those who have represented Messi’s great rivals – Real Madrid and Brazil – who are willing the Argentinian to go out and do it.
Here are 12 big names who will be cheering on Messi and Argentina in the World Cup final.
“It’s a pleasure to watch him live, it really is. Obviously he’s played at a really good level, but the level he’s at, at his age, he’s doing that against some brilliant players, and it’s fantastic, what a player,” the former Manchester United captain told ITV.
“You know what? I really hope he goes on to win it. I think that would be the icing on the cake for the man – he’s just fantastic.”
💬 “He’s done it for years and years… You know what I hope they win it even if it’s just for him.”
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) December 15, 2022
“I am desperate for Messi to win because he belongs on the same pedestal as Pele and Maradona. A World Cup winners’ medal removes the only shred of doubt about his place. For me, it would mean going beyond all others,” wrote the former Liverpool centre-back in his Telegraph column.
The Brazil icon gave a diplomatic answer.
“I cannot answer for the whole of Brazil. I can only answer for me. And I am not that sure! Yeah, of course, I will be happy for him (Messi).
“But, you know, we have a great rivalry between Brazil and Argentina. But I will not be that much of a hypocrite to say I will be happy for Argentina because it’s not true. But, of course, I see football as a romantic. Of course, I will accept (an Argentine triumph) and I will enjoy any champion.”
— Footy2206 (@footy66) December 13, 2022
Ronaldo isn’t the only member of Brazil’s 2002 World Cup-winning side to have a soft spot for the Argentinian.
“Now we don’t have Brazil or Neymar in the final, so I’m going with Argentina,” wrote Rivaldo on his social media.
“There are no words for you, Leo Messi. You already deserve to be a world champion, but God knows all things and will crown you on Sunday, you deserve this title for the person you are and the wonderful football you have always played.”
“I’m going for Messi and then for Argentina. Why wouldn’t I want Messi to be champion?” the legendary Brazilian right-back told Ole Clarin.
“If Brazil isn’t there, I’m going for Messi. He is having a great World Cup. After losing the first match, Argentina and him were harshly criticized and they had them out of the World Cup. Then, suddenly, he took control and responsibility. It’s as if he said “give it to me” and he was obliged to make his national team better. And he achieved that.”
“I hope Argentina wins the World Cup because of Messi,” Ibrahimovic told 433.
“I think it’s already written who will win, and you know who I mean. I think Messi will lift the trophy, it’s already written,” the Swede added in a later interview.
“I was with a group of friends recently and of those five friends, three of them said to me, ‘Look, if Argentina win we’ll have to put up with them for a long time. Even when they don’t win anything they’re insufferable. Imagine if they win!’,” the ex-Manchester United full-back wrote in The Athletic.
“I want Argentina to win for Messi, for everything he has accomplished in his career. Every player should want to emulate his work ethic, his humility, his performances. Messi is the standard.
“This version of Messi that I’ve been watching truly wants to win the World Cup. He’s fully focused on that. It’s a wonderful opportunity for him.”
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“Hopefully (Messi) win this World Cup, he is the best player in history and he deserves it,” Modric told reporters after Croatia’s 3-0 defeat to Argentina in the semi-finals.
“He is having a great World Cup, he is showing his quality and greatness in every game.”
John Obi Mikel
“So, let’s say probably Argentina because I’m a big fan of Messi. I love the way he plays football and I think it will be a crime if he ends his career without winning the World Cup,” Mikel told Pulse Sports.
“I think everybody is rooting for him, and so we hope that he wins it. Really we hope that Argentina win the tournament. It will be a crime if Lionel Messi ends his career without winning the World Cup.”
“If Spain doesn’t win the World Cup, I would like Argentina to win it because of Messi. It would be unfair for Messi to retire without winning a World Cup,” Messi’s former Barcelona boss said ahead of the tournament.
“I would like Leo Messi to win the World Cup, because of what he means to football,” he reiterated following Spain’s exit.
“First I would like the Spanish team to win and, if this doesn’t happen, I would love to see Leo Messi lift this World Cup. As a football fan I would love it. It would be something out of the ordinary,” the ex-Barcelona winge
“If someone still has any doubts, that there are very few left, it would be enough to end them all. It would also be perfect because he is in a team where he has teammates who are by his side, in an environment where all the players who play with him just want to lead him to win the World Cup. It’s amazing. So imagine how comfortable he must feel. That’s also one of the reasons why I see them as favourites.”
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