Argentina won the World Cup in Qatar after a 36 year wait, but what does it mean to them to lift the trophy for the first time in so long?
The best moment of Qatar's month-long feast of football were saved for Sunday's final game at Lusail Iconic Stadium.
Argentina and France reached football's ultimate game, with their eyes on lifting a possible third World Cup for their nation. These two were among the most exciting teams to watch at the tournament. The final lived up to the high expectations from around the world. 2-2 after 90 minutes, 3-3 after extra-time. It came down to penalties to decide the match. France's star player Kylian Mbappe scored a hattrick, but it wasn't enough. It was Messi's time to finally lift the trophy he had craved for so long after Argentina triumphed in the shootout.
It's Argentina's first World Cup victory since 1986, the first for a South American side in 20 years. It sent the country into raptures, with amazing celebration scenes being shared for days from its capital city, Buenos Aires.
"Football is not just a game. Football is the life. It represents the life. And when the South American teams go to the pitch, all countries come together, you know?" explained Pedro Araujo, South American football journalist.
"We have the same behaviour, with this heart behaviour, to scream, cry, and touch. We need this, and Argentina represents these feelings with soul. Not just a game, not just a competition. For us, this is the soul. The soul is on the pitch."
This win means so much to the people of Argentina that there are many stories to tell. One of the most prominent is finally seeing one of the greatest players of all time, Lionel Messi, lift the trophy he wanted the most. At club level, Messi has been the master of Europe, winning ten La Liga titles and four European Cups with Barcelona. It's been more challenging for him at the international level. Many feared he would go his entire career without winning a medal for his country.
Last year, he broke that duck, beating Brazil in the final of the Copa America to win that cup. But the World Cup was the trophy he truly wanted, and his contribution to winning the tournament will be a massive part of his legacy in Argentina and world football.
"I think it's fair to say many Argentines feel fortunate to have watched Lionel Messi play." explained South American football journalist Simon Edwards.
"You know, there's always the comparisons with Maradona, and that's always going to be a huge question. But we saw his final games in Argentina, probably, for the national team, and how excited fans were to attend and to see him play. It's going to be something they tell their children. I saw Messi play."
Due to the fact that the 2022 World Cup is the first tournament since the legend passed away in 2020, the Maradona talk has been especially poignant and bittersweet. Much like Messi in 2022, his individual performances and goals live long in the memories of those fans who were around to see Argentina win their last World Cup in 1986.
The goals Messi scored against Mexico, Croatia, and France in the final will be remembered for their significance in taking the title. On top of this, he played his part in tense penalty shootouts against the Netherlands and the French, putting away his penalties with ease.
Overall, the implications of this victory cannot be underestimated for Argentina. They had Maradona, and they now have Messi. As a result of this win, thousands of children will desire to become the next Argentina number 10 to follow in their footsteps.
For Messi himself and everyone in Argentina, it's time to bask in the moment and enjoy the glory as the 36-year wait to lift the trophy is over.