LIONEL MESSI replicated Diego Maradona’s iconic pose from 1986 as he fulfilled his lifelong dream by winning the World Cup.
The Argentina superstar lifted the only major trophy that had eluded him and said the penalty shootout triumph over France was written in the stars.
The victory sparked mass celebrations in which Messi was lifted above the rest of his team-mates while holding the trophy in the air.
Messi, 35, staked his claim to be the greatest of all time (GOAT) scoring twice in the 3-3 draw over 120 minutes before converting from the spot to emulate Diego Maradona’s class of 1986.
After kissing the trophy following the greatest World Cup final, Messi beamed: “I was lucky to have achieved almost everything — and what I was missing is here.
This was the trophy I wanted all my life. This was my childhood dream.
It’s madness. It’s the most beautiful thing there is. Look how she is, she’s gorgeous. I wanted her so much. I had a vision this would be the one. She was getting closer.
It’s crazy it happened this way. I knew God was going to give it to me. It’s simply unbelievable. It’s a big joy for us.
“We suffered a lot but we got it. I wanted to close my career with World Cup. I can’t ask more than this.”
Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi has also lifted the Champions League four times as well as the 2021 Copa America.
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Now, after adding the third World Cup star to Argentina’s shirt, he will enjoy the celebrations at home and continue playing for his country.
The Paris Saint-Germain star, 35, who said before Qatar that it would be his last World Cup, also earned the Golden Ball for the best player.
He added: “I was able to get the Copa America, now the World Cup. It came to me almost at the end. I love football, what I do. I enjoy being in the national team, the group.
“I’m not going to retire from the national team. I want to keep playing as World Cup champions in an Argentina shirt. I can’t wait to be in Argentina to see how crazy that is going to be.”
Lionel Scaloni is the coach who finally cracked the code and found a way to turn a Messi-inspired Argentina into champions.
Wearing an Argentina shirt with the third star already on it, emotional Scaloni said: “We need to save him for the World Cup, if he wants to keep playing he will be with us.
“He is more than he is entitled to decide what he wants to do with his career. It is such a huge pleasure to coach him.
“Everything he transmits to his team-mates is something unparalleled that I have never seen before.”
Scaloni, once a right back on loan at West Ham, was proud to have brought joy to a country suffering from severe economic problems.
Scaloni said: “It was a completely insane game. We should have won it in 90 minutes and 120 minutes. We deserve the victory. I am just happy that people are joyful.
“For us in Argentina football is not just football and we have to understand things can go wrong. Sometimes people thought the past players were not giving their all.
“Life goes on and our problems are not going anywhere but that joy we have been able to send to our people is great.”
France hat-trick hero Kylian Mbappe won the Golden Boot with eight goals while England claimed the Fifa Fair Play award for collecting just one yellow card in the tournament.