Lionel Messi | World Cup Champion
Lionel Messi | World Cup Champion
December 14, 05:01 PM GMT
ADIDAS, ADIDAS HEAT RDY SHIRT
RECYCLED POLYESTER JACQUARD, MESH
SIZE MEDIUM SLIM FIT
Obtained from the athlete by AC Momento.
“It was amazing. Everything changed for me that day. We finally got what we had dreamed of so much, the thing I’ve wanted for so long in my career. And it finally came at the end.”
When Lionel Messi hoisted the FIFA World Cup Trophy above his sweat-soaked head after the 2022 World Cup Final in front of an audience of nearly 1.5 billion people around the world, the moment seemed fit for the coronation of a football deity.
On a warm December night at Lusail Stadium in Qatar, there were no comparisons left to make - Messi stood alone atop the mountain. As he recalled after the tournament, “You really can’t explain how it feels: that’s it, it’s over, it worked, I got everything with the national team, just like I always dreamed.”
The trophy that had eluded him was the final piece of a gilded trail of feats and accomplishments - Messi had conquered every competition winning 10 LaLiga titles with FC Barcelona, a run that also included 4 Champions League wins, and Copa América and Finalissima trophies with Argentina. He was already the most decorated football player ever after being awarded 7 Ballon d’Ors (he has since won another) and countless other individual accolades and records. And with his victory in the FIFA World Cup Final, he had secured his second Golden Ball award as best player of the tournament.
The 2022 World Cup meant that Messi’s legacy was no longer up for debate: he was the undisputed greatest player of all time.
Sotheby’s is pleased to present a set of six of Lionel Messi’s match-worn iconic light blue and white, vertical striped Argentina shirts from his historic 2022 FIFA World Cup run.
A Long Journey to the Top
Messi’s success with his country did not come as naturally as his accomplishments for his clubs in Europe. Messi put it bluntly when reflecting on his long journey:
“There was so much suffering, because there were times when I suffered a lot with the national team, the finals we lost, being so close without it finally happening. I had so much criticism in every way possible. And my family suffered just like me, or even worse.”
This World Cup, one that many suspected was his last, was personal. But for Argentina, the start of the 2022 tournament appeared to be another step towards hollow disappointment. A stunning, 2-1 opening match defeat to Saudi Arabia, a massive underdog, threatened to derail yet another run at glory.
Yet, with a 5th consecutive World Cup loss staring him in his face, Messi took matters into his own hands. He rallied Argentina to decisive 2-0 victories against Mexico and Poland in the group stages to progress to the knockout stage. In the road leading to the Final, Messi dazzled, scoring goals in each of the following three matches as Argentina powered their way to meet France in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Final.
The Final Triumph: Messi's Unforgettable Performance and the Greatest World Cup Final
It was as if the script was preordained days before the opening whistle of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Final. After nearly 16 years of trying to hoist the World Cup Trophy, a familiar face stood between Messi and his ultimate goal —Messi’s teammate at Paris St-Germain, Kylian Mbappé. The last time the two met in the FIFA World Cup was in 2018, Mbappe scored two goals to oust Argentina from the tournament in the Round of 16, en route to his first title and the Best Young Player award, all at the age of 19.
After that match many thought it was the last they would ever see of Messi in the tournament. He had indicated at the time, it was then or never for the 31-year old. But after the early exit, Messi knew he still had one more feat to accomplish.
What followed was an all-time spectacle of brilliance between two of the sport’s titans, and what is now considered one of the greatest football matches of all time.
With Messi at the helm, the Argentinians opened the match looking poised to avenge their 2018 loss. They dominated the ball and created opportunity after opportunity, while France seemed to be a step slow. After a penalty kick was awarded in the 23rd minute, Messi calmly walked up to the ball - there was no debate who would take the shot. After his signature hesitation step in the run up, he slotted the ball in the right corner of the goal with his magical left foot. Argentina led 1-0.
Angel di Maria extended the lead to 2-0 in the 36th minute and Argentina would carry the lead into the half. The French appeared on the brink.
The second half however, had a different tone. Les Bleus refused to relinquish their title easily. A furious comeback in the final 10 minutes, led by two goals from the foot of Mbappe, brought the defending champions to an even 2-2 score by the final whistle of regulation.
In extra time, as he had so many times before, Messi would find himself in the right place at the right time once again. In the 108th minute he knocked home a rebound from close range to pull the lead back for Argentina.
Mbappe would respond minutes later, completing a hat trick from the penalty spot and taking the match to only the third ever sudden death penalty shootout in FIFA World Cup Finals history. This time however, the French had no answers. After missing two of their first four shots, Argentina’s Gonzalo Montiel would kick the tournament clinching goal.
When the realization of victory washed over Messi, he fell to his knees, his face a mix of joy, relief, and disbelief. His teammates rushed to embrace him, knowing they had been part of something truly extraordinary. Di Maria, who Messi had played with since they were young kids understood what it meant to compete alongside the all time great:
“For me, being by Leo’s side is everything. He’s the best in the world, an alien, and I won’t get tired of saying it. And I’ll say it again: Playing with Leo is the best thing that has happened to me in my career.”
As Messi walked across the stage with the FIFA World Cup trophy to meet his teammates, John Strong aptly narrated the moment to American television audiences:
“In this instance, it was the Hollywood ending, it was the perfect finish, it was the beautiful dream coming true. And these scenes will live forever as Lionel Messi and Argentina have won the World Cup!”
The image of Messi celebrating with arms outstretched, the World Cup trophy gleaming under the stadium lights, became an iconic moment in football history. It was a celebration of not just victory but of years of sacrifice, dedication, and unwavering belief in the dream of becoming a World Cup champion.
A Legacy Preserved
These match worn shirts are artifacts of Messi's legacy. They symbolize the culmination of a career filled with hard work, and an undying passion for the beautiful game. Messi's 2022 World Cup journey was about more than just winning; it was about inspiring generations of footballers and fans.
In the years to come, these shirts will serve as a reminder of Messi's greatness and the indelible mark he left on the world of football. Worn through the first half of each respective match, they are symbols of triumph and perseverance.
The shirts have been photomatched by Sports Investors Authentication.