Last Updated: January 17, 2023, 20:08 IST
Lionel Messi has surpassed Diego Maradona as the best participant of all time, Argentina’s World Cup-winning coach Lionel Scaloni has mentioned.
“If I’ve to decide on one I select Leo, I’ve one thing particular with him. He is one of the best of all time though Maradona was additionally nice,” Scaloni told Spanish radio station Cope on Tuesday.
Argentina fans have long preferred Maradona over Messi but attitudes appear to be shifting after the Paris St Germain forward led the team to lift the World Cup last month for the first time since Maradona inspired them to win it in 1986.
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Scaloni also revealed that he prioritised speaking to Messi when he was named Argentina coach in 2018, while the forward was taking a break from international duty following the disastrous World Cup in Russia.
“The first thing we did was have a video call with Messi. He said he was honoured and the first thing we said to him was ‘Come back. We’ll wait for you’. That’s what we did and eight months later he came and found an incredible group,” Scaloni added.
“Coaching Messi will not be tough. You can’t right him on a technical stage however generally you’ll be able to instruct him to press or to assault in a sure approach. When he smells blood he’s the primary.”
Scaloni also defended his goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez after he was criticised for his overzealous celebrations following Argentina’s triumph, such as making an obscene gesture when collecting the Golden Glove award and carrying a toy baby with Kylian Mbappe’s face on it during the open-top bus parade.
“There are attitudes which he will not be happy with, but he is a spectacular guy. He is like a child. He is an incredible guy, his personality has given so much to the group,” Scaloni added.
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