Argentina’s Lionel Messi (L) celebrating after scoring against Ecuador during their Conmebol 2021 Copa America football tournament quarter-final match at the Olympic Stadium in Goiania, Brazil, on July 3, 2021, and Brazil’s Neymar celebrating after scoring against Venezuela during the Conmebol Copa America 2021 football tournament group phase match at the Mane Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia on June 13, 2021. Photo: AFP
Brazil’s Neymar Jnr has congratulated his former FC Barcelona team mate, Lionel Messi, on his Copa América title which the Argentine won in the final game played early Sunday morning.
In the final played at Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro — which is considered to be the ‘spiritual home’ of the Brazilian football team — Lionel Scaloni’s Argentina team beat the Samba boys 1-0 and ended a 28-year trophy drought, courtesy of a 22nd-minute goal by Angel Di Maria who lobbed the ball cleverly over Ederson after a bit of shoddy defending from left-back Renan Lodi.
Brazil failed to find an equaliser despite a spirited performance by Neymar who more than once created goal-scoring chances for his teammates, despite the aggressive man-marking to which he was subjected by the on-field Argentines.
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Following the blast of the final whistle, the Brazilian Number 10 broke down in tears before trotting off to the Argentinian camp to embrace Messi and presumably offer his congratulations.
The 29-year-old wrote via Instagram that “Losing hurts me, it hurts me… it’s something I haven’t learned to live with yet. Yesterday when I lost, I went to give a hug to the biggest and best in history that I saw playing. My friend and brother MESSI, I was sad and I told him “f***, you won me.”
In the remaining part of his message, Neymar offered his congratulations to Messi:
“I am very sad for having lost. But this guy is awesome! I have great respect for what he has done for football and especially for me. I HATE TO LOSE!!!! But enjoy your title, football was waiting for you for that moment! CONGRATULATIONS HERMANO HDP”
With the exception of the 2013 Confederations Cup where he was named Best Player of the Tournament, Neymar is yet to win any other trophy with Selecao.
He was also excluded from the Brazil squad that won the 2019 Copa América on account of an injury.
Neymar, in the 2021 Copa América, scored two goals and provided three assists, contributing to five goals out of Brazil’s 12 strikes.
Along with Lionel Messi, he was named the Best Player of the Tournament because, according to CONMEBOL, “It is not possible to choose only one player, because this competition has two best players.”