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Lionel Messi's emotional final words emerge in new footage before World Cup penalty

Irish Mirror logo Irish Mirror 17/01/2023 Tom Blow

Lionel Messi looked up to the heavens and spoke to his late grandmother just before Argentina's winning penalty in the World Cup final.

Messi, 35, won the World Cup at the fifth attempt last month after Argentina defeated France on penalties. The final at the Lusail Stadium in Qatar went to a shootout after a pulsating 3-3 draw, in which Messi scored a brace and Kylian Mbappe hit a hat-trick.

Messi fell to his knees in tears after Gonzalo Montiel's winning penalty hit the net, but his prayer to his late grandma Celia Olivera Cuccittini has only just been spotted in leaked video footage. Celia, who died in 1998, played an important role in Messi's childhood.

As Montiel stepped up to take the winning penalty, Messi looked up to the sky and said, "Puede ser hoy, abu" - which translates to, "It could be today, grandma".

The World Cup was the one honour missing from Messi's trophy cabinet, which includes 11 league titles and four Champions Leagues. He has also won the Ballon d'Or a record seven times and is likely to add an eighth to his collection after Argentina's triumph.

Lionel Messi led Argentina to World Cup glory last month © Getty Images Lionel Messi led Argentina to World Cup glory last month

Messi failed to win the World Cup during four previous attempts. He made his World Cup debut in 2006, when Argentina reached the quarter-finals in Germany. He was also part of the squad that reached the final in Brazil in 2014, where they lost 1-0 to Germany.

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Celia was supportive of Messi's dream to become a professional footballer before her passing in 1998, when the future icon was just 11. It's claimed that Messi's iconic celebration - in which he looks up to the heavens after scoring - is a tribute to his late grandma.

As quoted by Sport Bible, Messi has recalled the time when Celia persuaded a local coach to allow him to play against older kids. Messi said: "I was small, we would all go to the neighbourhood club to where the whole family always went; my brother and cousins would all play, each in their respective category as we were all of different ages."

Messi won his second Golden Ball after Argentina's World Cup triumph © Getty Images Messi won his second Golden Ball after Argentina's World Cup triumph

Messi was just four years old at the time. He added: "I was one of the youngest ones and therefore there were no categories for me yet, but one of them was missing a player and so my grandmother told the manager to let me play. To which the manager replied, 'How can we let him play? He is too small, he cannot play'.

"Despite this, my grandmother still insisted, 'Let him play, let him play'. She was very much loved by everyone at the club and continued to demand I be put in until they did. I scored two goals although truthfully, I do not remember much as I was quite young, but that is the story as my grandmother used to tell it."

Celia's influence on Messi's career is well known in Argentina. After their 3-0 win against Croatia in the World Cup semi-final, hundreds of fans celebrated outside of Celia's former home. They are heard chanting "the grandma of Messi" in video footage.

Messi won his second World Cup Golden Ball for playing a vital role in Argentina's triumph. He was undoubtedly their best player during the tournament, as he scored seven goals and provided three assists. Only Mbappe scored more goals in Qatar.


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