Lionel Messi has been honoured for his FIFA World Cup heroics with a statue at the CONMEBOL museum of South American football.
CONMEBOL unveiled the life-size sculpture on Monday, depicting Messi in an Argentina shirt holding the World Cup trophy.
The PSG forward led La Albiceleste to their third triumph at the tournament and their first since 1986, scoring seven goals on their way to glory.
For his hand in helping Argentina win both the World Cup and Finalissima in the last 12 months, Messi was presented with replicas of both trophies at the unveiling ceremony.
Speaking at the event, Messi said: “I had never dreamed or thought about this. My dream was to enjoy what I liked when I was little, to be a professional soccer player, to do what I always loved in this life.
“I had a very long road, many decisions and defeats, but I always looked ahead and wanted to go for a triumph, for a victory. I think that is the most important thing, to fight for your dreams, that everything is possible and to enjoy the game, which is the most beautiful thing there is.
“We are living a very special and beautiful moment, getting a lot of love. It was time for a South American team to win the World Cup again.”
Messi’s statue will stand alongside those commissioned for fellow South American legends Diego Maradona and Pele at the CONMEBOL museum.
Messi has now scored 99 goals in 173 games for Argentina after finding the net in their 2-0 win against Panama on a celebratory evening at El Monumental on Friday. The 35-year-old has also laid on 55 assists.
In addition to the World Cup and Finalissima, Messi also played a starring role in helping Argentina win the Copa America in 2021 – their first South American title in 28 years.
At youth level, Messi’s Argentina won the FIFA World Youth Championship in 2005 and claimed gold at the 2008 Olympics.