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CONMEBOL pays tribute to Argentina ‘campeón’

The Argentina squad were invited to Conmebol’s headquarters in Asuncion where a Leo Messi statue was unveiled.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Copa Libertadores - Draw - Conmebol headquarters, Luque, Paraguay - March 27, 2023 Argentina's Lionel Messi poses with a statue of himself holding the World Cup during the Conmebol event. REUTERS/Cesar Olmedo/File Photo

The Argentina national team, led by captain Lionel Messi and coach Lionel Scaloni were special guests at a tribute event organised by the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) on Monday in Asuncion after their World Cup heroics in Qatar last year.

Lionel Messi (C) receives a ceremonial baton of leadership from the president of Conmebol, Paraguayan Alejandro Dominguez
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Lionel Messi (C) receives a ceremonial baton of leadership from the president of Conmebol, Paraguayan Alejandro Dominguez NORBERTO DUARTEGetty

CONMEBOL president Alejandro Dominguez delivered a powerful speech as a series of videos brought back memories of the World Cup glory in the Gulf.

Messi shines

Lionel Messi stepped out of Diego Maradona’s shadow by leading Argentina to World Cup victory last year and a statue of the diminutive forward will stand alongside those of his predecessor and Brazil great Pele at the South American federation’s museum.

Messi, holding a replica of the World Cup trophy, stood beside the life-size statue at an unveiling ceremony at the South American Football Federation (CONMEBOL) headquarters in Paraguay before the Copa Libertadores draw on Monday.

The 35-year-old emulated the late Maradona by leading Argentina to their first World Cup triumph in 36 years in Qatar in December.

Lionel Messi
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Lionel Messi Rubén PeñaEFE

“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”.

The Argentina players and coach Lionel Scaloni also received miniature trophies of the World Cup and the 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 friendly win over Panama.

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 Curaçao.