Lionel Messi believes Diego Maradona “encouraged us from heaven” as Argentina beat France in Sunday’s World Cup final.
La Albiceleste ended a 36-year wait to win their third World Cup with a penalty shoot-out victory over the reigning champions at Lusail Stadium.
The teams drew 3-3 after extra time, with a Messi double and Angel Di Maria strike cancelled out by a Kylian Mbappe hat-trick as a gripping tie went all the way to spot-kicks.
However, Kingsley Coman and Aurelien Tchouameni failed to convert their penalties as Argentina won the shoot-out 4-2 to earn Messi his first World Cup in dramatic fashion.
The win was especially emotional with the World Cup in Qatar the first since Maradona, who famously led Argentina to glory at the 1986 World Cup, passed away in November 2020.
After losing the 2014 World Cup final to Germany because of a 113th-minute Mario Gotze winner, Messi was glad the same fate did not befall Argentina against France.
Messi released a message on Instagram, saying: “I always dreamed of being a world champion and I didn’t want to stop trying, even knowing that maybe I would never give up.
“This cup we got is also from all those who did not make it in the previous World Cups we played, like in 2014 in Brazil, where they all deserved it for how they fought until the same final, worked hard and wanted it as much as I did.
“It’s also from Diego who encouraged us from heaven.
“And of all those who spent the time always supporting the national team without looking so much at the result but the desire we always put into it, also when things didn’t go as we wanted.
“Many times failure is part of the journey and learning and without the disappointments it is impossible for success to come.
“Thank you very much from my heart! Let’s go Argentina!!!”
Messi’s latest Instagram message came after his photo holding the World Cup trophy became the most popular post in the social media platform’s history, amassing 65 million likes.
He followed that up by uploading a picture on Tuesday of him in bed holding the famous trophy, which was liked over 40 million times in the nine hours after it was posted.
After the country’s government declared Tuesday a national holiday, Messi and his team-mates landed back in Argentina and were greeted by mass crowds of adoring fans.