Lionel Messi in an emotional statement has dedicated the Copa America triumph to the “45 million Argentines” and late Diego Maradona.

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner not only ended the 28-year-long wait for Argentina but also his personal duck to win an international trophy at Maracana against Brazil. Lionel Messi had a brilliant Copa America 2021 as he scored four goals and had five assists to his name. Even though Colombia’s Luis Diaz also scored four goals, Messi registered more assists and was named the Golden Boot winner.

Messi took to Instagram to write: “It was an incredible Copa America. We know that we can still improve a lot of things, but the truth is that the guys gave it everything and I can’t be more proud to have the luck of being captain of this spectacular group.

“I want to dedicate this success to my family, who always gave me the strength to move forward, to my friends that I love so much, to all the people who believe in us, and most of all to the 45 million Argentines who have endured such a tough time with this virus …, especially those that have been personally affected.

“This is for all, and of course also for Diego, who surely was supporting us from wherever he is. In order to continue celebrating we have to continue taking care of ourselves. Let’s not forget that there is still a long way to go to return to normality and I hope we can take advantage of this happiness to gain a little strength to fight the virus together.”

Football legend Maradona, who inspired his nation to World Cup glory in 1986, passed away in November 2020 at the age of 60.

In total, Messi had a hand in nine of the 12 goals Argentina scored during the tournament and was also named the Best Player of the Tournament along with Brazil’s Neymar who had scored two goals and registered three assists himself. With this Copa victory, Argentina secured their 15th continental title, drawing them level with Uruguay as the holders of the most wins. La Albiceleste are joint top with their la Plata neighbors Uruguay, while Brazil are in third with 9 wins. (ANI)