Argentina superstar and five-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi has admitted that is a case of 'now or never' in his quest to win the World Cup.
Barcelona superstar and five-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi has admitted that is a case of 'now or never' in his quest to win the World Cup as he begins to reach the latter stages of his career, but has acknowledged that Argentina are not among the favorites this summer.
Messi came agonizingly close to finally winning international silverware four years ago and matching the achievements of the legendary Diego Maradona when La Albiceleste were beaten finalists. In previous years - 2006 and 2010 - he had experienced consecutive quarter final exits.
"Passing next to the World Cup trophy was horrible," he said of the 2014 final in an interview with Fox Sports Argentina this week.
"We want to get rid of the bad taste and win the World Cup. To be so close and not being able to lift the trophy on previous occasions was a disappointment for all of us."
He even has personal regrets after missing a key chance to score in the game, one that he says he would have taken differently given the opportunity to replay it.
"I remember the chance to score that I had, it was awful how I shot , the way I positioned my foot. If I would hit that ball in some other way, maybe like I did against Chelsea [in the recent Champions League Last 16]," Messi lamented.
The player has tasted defeat in two Copa America finals since 2014, as well as also finishing second in the 2007 Copa America.
For Messi and several others in the squad who are 30 or older - the likes of Angel Di Maria, Javier Mascherano, Nicolas Otamendi, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Romero - they may never return to a World Cup.
Messi in particular has threatened another international retirement if Argentina fail.
"We feel that it's now or never. Because this is it, we have to think that this could be the last for this group of players," he said. "[The players] have a debt with ourselves. We don't owe the fans anything because we always give our 100 percent and we've reached three finals [from 2014]."
The problem is that after a labored qualifying campaign, Argentina are not seen as a favorite to lift the trophy for what would be the third time in their history after 1978 and 1986 triumphs.
"Right now we're not among the contenders to win the World Cup. There are much better teams like Spain, Germany, Brazil and France," Messi admitted.