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We should keep No.10 jersey prepared for next World Cup if Messi feels like playing: Lionel Scaloni

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said that he will keep Lionel Messi’s jersey ready for the next World Cup if he decides to play in 2026. Argentina beat France on penalties to clinch their third title and first since 1986.

In Short

  • Scaloni said Messi is an influential person in changingroom
  • Messi featured in the record 26th World Cup match in 2022 final
  • Argentina won their first World Cup title since 1986

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said that he will keep Lionel Messi’s jersey number 10 ready for the next FIFA World Cup if the star player wishes to play.

Messi inspired Argentina to end the 36-year wait to clinch the World Cup trophy after defeating the defending champions France on penalty shootout 4-2 on Sunday. The star player Messi scored a brace and was successful in the shootout as he finally got his hands on the coveted trophy.

When many thought the 35-year-old would call it a time in blue and white stripes of Argentina, Messi declared that he has no plans to retire from the international duties in near future. And the decision was welcomed by Scaloni.

“I think we should keep the number 10 jersey prepared for the next World Cup if he (Messi) feels like playing,” Scaloni said after the victory. “He earned the right to do whatever he wants with his career. What he transmits to his team mates is incredible. I have never seen such an influential person in the changing room.”

Scaloni further said that his Argentina team started to feel unbeatable after winning last year’s Copa America.

“After (we beat) Brazil, I had a conversation with Messi… (and explained) we had a big task in-front of us, people from our country were starting to believe (in our World Cup chances), to hope, and pressure was rising,” said Scaloni.

“He told me that ‘We have to keep going, nothing else matters’ and that gave me a tremendous emotional boost. I realised that we were on the verge of (achieving) something (big).”

The World Cup victory for Argentina came two years after the demise of Diego Maradona, who last guided Argentina to glory in 1986. Scaloni remembered Maradona and said: “I only now realise that Maradona is not with us anymore and that makes me think that he will be happy and proud of us from where he is.

“If he was here, he would have been the first fan to step in pitch to celebrate with us. I hope he has enjoyed what we accomplished. It wasn’t in my plans being world champion. It’s madness. That is no bigger pride of representing your country and I hope we made our fans proud.”

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