Leo Messi finally gets his hands on his much-awaited trophy for Argentina


Leo Messi was crying on the turf of the Maracaná stadium when his team mates - also Copa América champions, like him - ran towards their captain to embrace him and celebrate the special victory together. They won it in Brazil, against Brazil. A small "maracanazo" for a group of players who looked like they had run out of luck.

It wasn't just Messi who had suffered it. This was also the case for Aguero, Di María and Otamendi. This same generation of players had lost finals on five separate occasions. It seemed like they were jinxed, but their luck came in on the most special of stages.

Destiny had a big prize in store for Messi and those of his generation. Winning this first title on such a stage, against such an opponent. Well, we should all be singing the famous song "Brasil, decidme qué se siente" - the chant that was sung by Argentina fans in the 2014 World Cup, when we lost our beloved colleague Topo López.

In this tournament it has been López's widow, Verónica Brunati, and Joaquim Piera, our correspondents in Argentina and Brazil respectively, who told SPORT about Argentina's progress, Messi picking up the Man of the Match award in every game and the terrible precedents that accompanied Argentina in the run-up to the final until they eventually got their hands on the trophy.

Messi is on holiday as of today. He will ring his father, Jorge, to ask about his contract renewal at Bracelona. He didn't want to hear anything about these negotiations because he has been focusing on the Copa América. But now it's time to turn the page and think about the future that awaits him - presumably at Barça.

Leo has made it clear that he wants to stay at Camp Nou, even if he isn't surrounded by world-class players; even if he needs to take a wage cut; even if he has to miss out on 100,000 euros a day for every day that he doesn't have a contract. Messi has shown, for both Barça and Argentina, that he is one of those guys who finds it hard to throw the towel in. Sometimes things can get ugly, but perseverence is another of his many virtues.




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