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Messi regrets Netherlands celebration, says Mexico was 'most difficult' opponent

It's been over six weeks since Lionel Messi lifted the World Cup trophy and Argentina celebrated their long-awaited third star. Messi has since returned to playing for the traveling circus that is PSG, but the 35-year-old's thoughts won't stray far from that month-long odyssey in Qatar and the fulfillment of a life's dream for some time to come.

On Monday, a 45-minute interview in Paris between Messi and Argentine journalist Any Kusnetzoff for Urbana Play provided all the details from the triumph, fresh in the Golden Ball winner's mind. 

Argentina's captain discussed the legendary quarterfinal against the Netherlands, the competition's most difficult moments and the euphoria that followed it all.

Lionel Messi Urbana Play interview

Taunts aimed at Louis van Gaal and Wout Weghorst ("Qué mirás, bobo?") 

"The truth is that no (I didn't prepare the celebration). I didn't like it. It came out at the moment and yes, I knew what had been said before the game, what he said. Some of my teammates told me 'did you see what he said' on purpose. We got 2-0 and then at the time, I don't like what I did, what happened later with 'andá pa' allá, bobo.' These are moments of great tension, a lot of anxiousness, everything happens very quickly and you don't have time to think about anything. Actually, nothing was planned, it happened like that and as I say, it isn't an image I like to give off." 

"Everything that came out was natural, a lot happened on the field with that player, in reality and more. In the moment there's tension, friction, confrontations, when the game goes like that, the heat with the referee too. I was in the mixed zone and the game had just finished, and well, I know there's all sorts of things now." 

Argentina's most difficult match

"I think the game against Mexico was the most difficult one for us because of everything that was at stake. Despite the result, I think it was also our worst game. It was a must-win game and that makes you play differently. But I believed we were going to pull through, without this group it would have been much harder."

Diego Maradona 

"I would have liked that Diego Maradona would have handed me the Cup or at least to have seen all of this. To have seen Argentina as world champions, considering how much he desired it and how much he loved the national team. I think he from above, as well as many other people that love me, gave me strength." 

Social media reaction

"My Instagram was blocked for a few days because of the amount of messages I received after winning the World Cup... I had a million messages on Instagram, and they blocked me."

"That's it" message to wife Antonela after winning it all

"Why did I say 'that's it' to Antonela? Because it was over, after so much time, so much suffering. There were times when I suffered a lot with the national team, many disappointments, lost finals... I received a lot of criticism, of all colors. And my family suffered much more than me. It was closing the circle: we won the Copa América, the World Cup. That's it. There's nothing left."

Approach to the final

"The truth is that we followed what we had been doing during the World Cup. (Antonela and I) talked before going to sleep and we did the routine we had been doing before the matches. The truth is that we were very well. I felt relaxed, I was very calm. I was able to sleep. I was very calm."

Messi hasn't announced his international retirement, and he said after the final that he wanted to "keep experiencing a few more matches as world champion." Argentina returns to action in March during the FIFA international window. There aren't confirmed opponents yet but TyC Sports reported that both games would be played in Buenos Aires.

The next big event for La Albiceleste is the 2024 Copa América in the United States. 

Messi has made it clear that as his career comes to a close, he's only interested in living in the moment and taking things day by day. That's why he still hasn't made a decision on where he'll be playing next season with his PSG contract set to expire on June 30. 

So there's no saying if he'll be at the Copa América, but as long as he hasn't announced his international retirement then the odds are in favor of his participation — manager Lionel Scaloni already wants to take him to the 2026 World Cup.

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