Messi’s World Cup win was one for all fans

Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports
Messi was not playing for himself in 2022, he carried a nation on his back.

The 2022 World Cup was a final chance for Argentina. Lionel Messi, their star forward, had given his all to the country in four World Cups and many years of international play. However, the team never took home the trophy during his time with them.

With Messi being 35 years old during the tournament, there was no guarantee that he would play in another. So, his teammates wanted to deliver him the trophy, which would be a fitting result for one of the most talented soccer players ever. 

However, it was not only Messi’s teammates who rallied behind him. And it was not only Argentinians rooting for the star forward. Fans from across the globe came together to support Messi and Argentina. 

Apple TV’s new docuseries, Messi’s World Cup: The Rise of a Legend, details Argentina’s World Cup run. But it also provides a look into Messi’s past, showing what makes him appealing to fans across the globe. 

“He is an icon. He has people devoted to him worldwide. He has been a part of the sport for decades. He has been contributing in a significant way. During this World Cup, everybody became Argentinian,” said executive producer Jenna Millman.

Messi’s story is about the journey of a kid from Rosario, Argentina, who kept his country in mind despite playing club soccer overseas. He joined FC Barcelona as a teenager but selected Argentina over Spain, looking to bring international trophies to his birthplace.

Messi delivered an Olympic gold medal in 2008, and a Copa América win in 2021. At the same time, he dominated at the club level, winning four Champions League trophies and ten La Liga titles. But, one accomplishment evaded him: the World Cup. In four attempts, he failed to bring home arguably the most sought-after trophy in soccer. But in 2022, he had one (potentially final) chance. 

Messi was not playing entirely for his own record. Instead, he was carrying the weight of a nation on his back. The entire country was tuned into their screens when Argentina played, hoping to see their star deliver a World Cup trophy to them.

“It is a love story between Leo and his country,” Millman said. “Ultimately, he is a world superstar, but he is really just a boy from Rosario at the beginning and the end.”

The four-episode docuseries was released on Feb. 21 and is available on Apple TV+. Each part dives into one of Messi’s previous World Cups, with pieces of the 2022 World Cup triumph throughout. 

It was not an easy path, as Argentina faced heartbreak countless times. Even in the 2022 World Cup, the team lost its opening match to Saudi Arabia, facing the potential of an early exit. However, they rallied, thrillingly winning matches, including a penalty shootout win in the final against France. 

“His journey was not just a four-week journey, but a 17-year journey with the national team,” Millman said. “He brought the nation with him. They suffered with him during the losses and celebrated with him during the wins. You really see this incredible relationship throughout the series.”

While Messi played for his country, his teammates played for him. Messi had given his all to the team, falling short countless times. His teammates understood the magnitude of the 2022 World Cup.

“We were all striving to become world champions for him [Messi] because he deserved it more than anyone else,” Angel Di Maria recalled in the first episode. “Because he had achieved everything in his career and was just missing this one. He was missing the golden one.”

The docuseries portrays Messi’s affection for Argentina in a story that told itself. The World Cup trophy was the missing piece to an illustrious career, but Messi was playing for Argentina.