The Argentine national team faces the French national team in Qatar on Sunday, where anxiety and hopes are rising that this is the match in which Lionel Messi will achieve his missing title in his career by winning the World Cup.
Rosario, Argentina’s third-largest city, is preparing for Messi’s pictures in the streets, while many residents still remember him playing on the dirt roads in the area, according to what Fernada Quiroga told The Associated Press.
“Messi was always kicking something, a ball, a bottle cap,” added Quiroga, 35, who is the same age as the Argentine national team star, noting that he lived near his home.
“We were told that this is Messi’s last World Cup, so we all hope he wins it,” he added, adding that this matter may “interest Messi” in the first place more than “the team itself.”
And the “La Bajada” neighborhood turned into something like a shrine, where Messi’s pictures and graffiti in support of him spread on the walls, and where fans from all over the world come to visit the house in which he lived.
And on the wall of an old house still owned by the Messi family, a large mural of Lionel was painted looking at the sky.
Marcelo Almada, 37, a resident of the area, told the agency that after every victory for Argentina, people celebrate in the streets until the morning.
Andrea Lilena Sosa, 55, who was Messi’s math and science teacher, remembers, “He was a quiet and loyal student, responsible for what he was doing at school, and well-liked among his colleagues. He was very focused on football.”
She added that “winning Sunday’s game” would be important “to be recognized and loved by everyone”.
Messi and the Argentine national team succeeded in raising hope in a country suffering from economic crises and recession accompanied by the highest rates of inflation, where about 4 out of 10 people live in poverty.
Diego Schwarzstein, the endocrinologist who treated Messi for growth hormone deficiency, said, “Everyone wants Messi to win. This will generate a wonderful feeling that is very rare in Argentina.”
Messi had left for FC Barcelona when he was still 13 years old, and the club then paid for his expensive treatment.
Schwarzstein explained that the match is important because it distracts our attention, even for a short time, from “murders, thefts and crimes that occur,” noting that Messi has become “a star and has a beautiful family, a huge bank account and great popularity … but those who know his path realize the importance of winning the World Cup.” .
The Argentine and French national teams will play the final match, Sunday, at Lusail Stadium in Qatar, which can accommodate about 89,000 people, but it is said that more than 30,000 Argentines are in Qatar, according to a report by Agence France-Presse.