Lionel Scaloni described Argentina's World Cup triumph as 'the best feeling ever' - and wished that Diego Maradona had still been alive to see it

Lionel Scaloni Argentina World Cup 2022
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lionel Scaloni guided Argentina to World Cup glory, triumphing on penalties after France came from 2-0 down. It was the first World Cup to take place since Maradona passed away two years ago.

"I wish he was still here to enjoy this moment," the Argentina boss said. "We managed to lift the trophy, something that we've been dreaming about for so long - we're a country that's so passionate about football, and I'm sure that if Diego had been here he'd have enjoyed it so much. He would have been on the first one the pitch to enjoy it.

"The match was completely insane. We produced a great performance - we should have won it in the 90 minutes or in extra time, we didn't deserve the draw but we were fighters. It was similar to the game with the Netherlands, we kept on fighting because we wanted to win.

"Now I have best feeling ever. This squad play for their people, for the Argentina fans, everyone is pulling in the same direction, for the whole country. It's a great pride when you're playing for your country - the players broke their backs, they have achieved this title because they understood what they had to do on the pitch.

"Before extra time, I told them we had to be optimistic. The team were playing well - France had two chances, they equalised, but we knew that if we played our game, we were going to create chances and that's what happened.

"Then before the penalty shoot-out, I said the same thing, we had to remain calm. Emiliano is a very positive guy and he told his team-mates that he was going to save some penalties."

Scaloni became Argentina manager in 2018 and has become the boss to finally deliver the World Cup for Lionel Messi, after so many years of trying for the 35-year-old, and says it will be the legend's decision as to how long he continues to play for Argentina.

"In the first months I was in charge, we played in a different way, but then we realised that we had great players who could facilitate things for Messi to make him part of it, to help him," the manager said.

"That was one year after I took on this job. It was about realising which would be the players who'd help Messi on the pitch and feel comfortable with him.

"At the 2026 World Cup, if he wants to keep playing, he'll be with us. He's more than entitled to decide whether he wants to keep playing for Argentina or not - it's such a huge pleasure for us to coach him and his team-mates.

"Everything that he transmits to his team-mates is something unparalleled, something I've never seen before. He's a player who gives so much to his team-mates."

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Chris Flanagan
Staff Writer

Chris joined FourFourTwo in 2015 and has reported from 20 countries, in places as varied as Jerusalem and the Arctic Circle. He's interviewed Pele, Zlatan and Santa Claus (it's a long story), as well as covering Euro 2020 and the Clasico. He previously spent 10 years as a newspaper journalist, and completed the 92 in 2017.