Gary Neville felt Lionel Messi’s destiny was to win the World Cup in his last match of the tournament, while Jamie Carragher said the final would be one of the greatest football matches of all time.
Messi scored twice at the Lusail stadium as Argentina beat France 4-2 on penalties after an exhilarating 3-3 draw after extra time to claim the only piece of silverware that eluded him in his busy career. trophies.
Neville described the final as “one of the greatest things I have ever seen in my life” and praised Messi for his talismanic performances for Argentina in Qatar.
“Messi should be the center of attention and it’s normal that he won a World Cup,” Neville told ITV. “It’s like fate was there for him and he contributed a lot during this tournament.
“Throughout his career he has lit up every game he has played. If you have watched Lionel Messi play live you are truly blessed. The passion, the emotion, the fight and the spirit of Argentina – their naughtiness to the very end with Emi Martinez in focus – was absolutely amazing.
“You can just feel the emotion across the stadium.”
Jamie Carragher said the final – which saw France hit back twice thanks to a Kylian Mbappe hat-trick, the first in a World Cup final since Geoff Hurst’s for England in 1966 – would go into the history as one of the best of all time.
He tweeted: “One of the best games of all time!”
Neville expects Messi and his team to inspire the next generation of potential footballers, just like Diego Maradona did for him when he won the World Cup with Argentina in 1986.
“We were watching the Maradona ’86 clips before the game and I was young watching it as a kid,” Neville added.
“Kids who were my age at the time will watch this tonight thinking they want to become footballers and immerse themselves in football culture.
“It had a huge impact on me this game tonight, but it will have a huge impact on everyone.”
‘What an end for Messi’
Roy Keane said it was a fitting end to Messi’s international career and praised the forward for handling the pressure on his shoulders so well to perform when it really mattered.
“Do you know what sometimes happens to a player when you’re under such pressure, obviously it will hit him over the next few weeks and months but it’s more of a relief that you’ve crossed the line,” said Keane.
“The pressure he’s been under for a number of years, to do it in his last game for his country, what an end to him.”
Keane agreed with Neville on the quality of the game and said it was a great example of why football “is the greatest game on the planet”.
“It was an incredible, thrilling, nerve-wracking game,” he added. “There were real moments of quality, desire and enthusiasm.
“You can’t blame them. It’s been years and years and years of hard child work and wanting to win the World Cup with Argentina.
“They deserve all the credit in the world. They had to win the game three times and they had to do the same against the Dutch.
“For all their quality, they showed great spirit and a fight.”
Tearful Zabaleta: The perfect story for Messi
Ex-Argentina defender Pablo Zabaleta was on the verge of tears after the game and said it was “the perfect story for Messi”.
“I’m so emotional. It’s one of those moments,” he said on BBC One.
“I just look at Messi. Thank you all for a great game. What a perfect story for Messi.
“He deserves it. 100%. Everybody’s crying.”