Lionel Messi kept stroking the World Cup trophy tenderly, taking a deep breath and greeting the more than 80,000 enthusiastic fans at the Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti. "I've always dreamed of celebrating with you guys, coming to my country and with the Copa America, with the World Cup," he said.
95 days after Qatar's triumph in the final against France, each of his team-mates had a copy of the world champion's trophy on a pillar as Messi delivered his emotional, firm-voiced speech to the Argentinian football nation: "It's the greatest thing gives."
The 35-year-old superstar and captain of the Argentine national team then garnished the big world champion party in Buenos Aires with his 800th competitive goal in the 2-0 win over Panama. "Full party for the Seleccion", enthused the sports platform "Olé".
Fans and teammates celebrate Messi
Thiago Almada put the South Americans ahead in the 78th minute after Messi's free-kick hit the post. In the 89th minute, Messi scored himself - and how!
From 22.5 meters he took the measure with his left foot and curled the ball over the wall into the opposing goal triangle. "The best in the world and another historic night," tweeted the broadcaster TyCSports, in the stands they celebrated their superstar with loud and long shouts of Messi. On the pitch, every teammate hugged the captain for his 800th competitive goal in the 1017th game.
Even before kick-off, tens of thousands of fans had enthusiastically celebrated the Argentine national team in the River Plate stadium. When tango singer Ariel Ardit sang Argentina's national anthem before the game started, Messi and goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez were already in tears. Coach Lionel Scaloni struggled with emotions during Messi's words.
Argentina will play another friendly against Curaçao in Santiago del Estero on Tuesday next week. Messi could then score his 100th goal alone for the national team.