Leo deserves this: Gabriel Batistuta praises Lionel Messi

Gabriel Batistuta has no hard feelings after Lionel Messi breaks his World Cup goal record 

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Updated: 17 December, 2022 12:06 pm IST
Lionel Messi will be playing his final World Cup match on Sunday.  (Photo Courtesy Twitter @FIFAWorldCup)

When Lionel Messi netted his fifth goal of the tournament with yet another spot-kick, in their 3-0 win over Croatia in the semis, he overcame Gabriel Batistuta to become Argentina’s top scorer in the FIFA World Cup with 11 goals.

The goal moved Messi to level with his Paris Saint-Germain teammate and France attacker Kylian Mbappe ahead of their final showdown on Sunday.

Meanwhile, 53-year-old Batistuta was full of praise for his 35-year-old countryman, saying he has no hard feelings.

“(Messi breaking the record) didn’t hurt me at all because I enjoyed it while I had it,” he told the Argentine newspaper, Clarin. “Leo deserves this. If there’s one person who has to be up there, it’s him,” he added.

“Messi is not an alien, he is a human being who plays better football than anyone else. When that person exceeds you, you can’t suffer, he just gives you pleasure,” the former Fiorentina striker said.

Batistuta scored 10 goals in three editions between the USA in 1994 and Korea/Japan in 2002, while Messi is playing his fifth World Cup in Qatar since making his debut in 2006.

Gabriel Batistuta was Argentina top goal scorer in World Cup with 10 goals before Lionel Messi eclipsed him (Photo Courtesy [email protected])


While Messi had earlier confirmed that this would be his last shot at the World Cup crown that has so far eluded him, Batistuta feels that this time his fellow Newell’s Old Boys clubmate will exorcise the ghost of 2014, when Germany broke billions of hearts with Mario Goetze’s 113th-minute strike at the iconic Maracanã Stadium in Brazil’s ‎Rio de Janeiro‎.

“I expected him to be much calmer, but he is playing like a 20-year-old,” Batistuta, who was famous for his powerful strikes from volleys while on the run, said.

“That’s because he’s hungry, he’s here to win the Cup. That’s what football needs, and that’s what Leo is spreading to the whole team,” he added.

“Argentina have all the conditions to take the title. There’s something in the atmosphere, a positive energy, for this to happen. For Messi and for the fans too,” he added.

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