Lionel Messi should be appreciated by fans of all countries at the World Cup as he will be missed like Roger Federer “and more” when he retires, says Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni.
Messi scored twice from the bench in Argentina’s 3-0 win over Jamaica on Tuesday, their penultimate friendly before Qatar 2022.
The Albiceleste head to the finals as one of the favourites, having won the Copa America last year.
That was Messi’s long-awaited first major international honour, and this could be the 35-year-old’s last chance to win a World Cup, having lost in the 2014 final.
Although the Paris Saint-Germain superstar remains on top of his game, scoring six goals across his past four matches for club and country, Scaloni knows he cannot go on forever.
And the Argentina boss expects Messi’s eventual retirement will be received with the same outpouring that met tennis legend Federer’s decision to quit the sport last week.
“[Messi] is like Federer,” Scaloni said after the Jamaica game.
“He retired and what happened when he retired? Everybody [was] excited, everybody is thinking, ‘he won’t be here anymore, he’s not going to play anymore’.
“How many of us would like to see Federer play tennis? Because it was wonderful to watch him play. The same will happen with [Messi] and more, because football is a sport that moves much more.
“So, let’s enjoy him. Everyone enjoys him regardless of the country, it’s wonderful to see him.
“I have the possibility of training him, but I would be a fan, I would pay a ticket to see him and I would buy his shirt, regardless of the country.
“So, the only thing left is to enjoy him, because I don’t know if something like this will ever be repeated. So, you have to enjoy him and nothing else.”