The midfielder of Argentina’s national football team, Javier Mascherano, rejected criticism on Wednesday of his teammate Lionel Messi, and was convinced that they wouldn’t have reached the final of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil without the Albiceleste captain.
"Messi brought us here. Argentina wouldn’t have reached the final without him. The criticism is unfair," said the midfielder when he was being honored in San Lorenzo, his hometown in the province of San Fe.
Messi, who did not perform to the extent that Argentina needed, scored four goals in the first three matches of the group phase, but then slowed his scoring march.
"Leo gave us a lot; he was the first to be sacrificed. He was able to understand that (the game) was for the benefit of the team and there is greatness. Instead of thinking about making himself shine, he thought about making the team shine," praised his partner who also plays in FC Barcelona of Spain.
At the final, even Messi had a precious opportunity that he couldn’t take advantage of and Germany finally prevailed (1-0).
When asked about the controversial title celebration of German players that performed a dance mocking their Argentine rivals on Tuesday in Berlin, Mascherano played down the drama.
"They are just teasing," he said.
The player, who became an idol in his country since his performance in the semi-final against Holland by winning in a penalty shootout (4-2), was declared outstanding citizen on Wednesday in the city of San Lorenzo.
Hundreds of residents of the town with 46,000 inhabitants, located within the metropolitan area of Rosario (310 km north of Buenos Aires), crowded in front of the Mayor’s office of San Lorenzo to the member of the Argentine team.
The player praised Alejandro Sabella, of which his "gratitude will be for life," he said.
"Alejandro gave me the desire to play in the squad when I felt that my time had passed, he made me feel important," said the former captain of the Albiceleste who was then led by Diego Maradona and fell 4-0 to Germany in the second round of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Text and photo: AFP