Lionel Messi has thanked the Argentinian Football Association after they renamed the national team's training centre after him.
Messi, 35, led his country to victory at last year's World Cup. The forward was outstanding in Qatar, as he scored seven goals - including two in the final against France - and provided three assists. He also received the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player.
Argentina played their first game since the World Cup final on Thursday night, when they defeated Panama 2-0 in Buenos Aires. The friendly was viewed as a homecoming for Lionel Scaloni's side, with each player receiving a replica of the World Cup trophy.
Thursday night's game was also Messi's first in Argentina since the tournament in Qatar, as he plays his club football for Paris Saint-Germain in France. As such, the Argentinian Football Association were keen to show their gratitude to their skipper.
Messi was informed of his latest honour on Saturday and was clearly overwhelmed by it. The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner wrote on Instagram, "This recognition is one of the nicest I've ever received. A great honour, thank you very much."
Messi struggled to hold back the tears ahead of Argentina's game against Panama, as they were serenaded by thousands of fans inside El Monumental. The veteran responded by scoring a stunning free kick, with Thiago Almada also finding the net.
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For a while, it seemed as if Messi was going to finish his career without a single international honour at senior level. The Paris Saint-Germain forward lost the 2007, 2015 and 2016 Copa America finals - as well as the 2014 World Cup final in Brazil.
Messi even retired from international football in 2016, such was his disappointment. Although he was persuaded to continue playing for Argentina later that year, a poor showing at the tournament in Russia in 2018 suggested his World Cup dream was over.
Yet the appointment of Scaloni as manager after that tournament, initially on an interim basis, brought new hope for Messi. Argentina won the Copa America in July 2021, the Finalissima in June 2022 and finally the World Cup five months later.
Argentina's World Cup triumph was dramatic. Messi's side stormed into a 2-0 lead before a late brace from Kylian Mbappe forced the game into extra time. After Messi restored Argentina's advantage, Mbappe scored from the spot to complete his hat-trick.
Thanks to the heroics of Emiliano Martinez, Argentina won on penalties to finally complete Messi's trophy cabinet. It also helped the skipper fulfil his prophecy as the rightful heir to Diego Maradona's throne in Argentina. Maradona sadly passed away in 2020.
Despite winning everything in the game, Messi is determined to continue playing for Argentina. Scaloni's side will defend their Copa America title in the summer of 2024, while Messi may even want to play in the next World Cup in three years' time. He will be 39 when the tournament in the United States, Canada and Mexico concludes.