Rio de Janeiro: Lionel Messi may not have shed tears but he was clearly inconsolable. Not even picking up the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player altered the Argentina captain’s gloomy expression after his side’s 0-1 extra-time defeat to Germany in the final.
Before going up to collect his award, Messi sportingly accepted the commiserations of his opponents, including Bastian Schweinsteiger, who gave him a warm embrace at pitchside.
He also took time to congratulate Manuel Neuer, who had followed him up to receive the Golden Glove, and posed for the obligatory photos.
Messi then rejoined his teammates as they filed past the victorious Germans, before climbing the steps once more to pick up their runner’s up medals. And still he kept his anguish and disappointment in check.
He made time to stop off for a photo with his side’s conqueror Mario Goetze, before making his way to the mixed zone to face the world’s media.
“Right now, nothing can console me — not the award or anything else,” said Messi.
“Our only goal was to take home the World Cup and enjoy our victory with everyone in Argentina. We deserved a bit more after the game we played, and it was very painful to lose that way,” added Messi, understandably anxious to conclude his round of interviews.
“We forwards failed to take our chances.”
In analysing the defeat, Messi had this to say: “Although they had more of the ball, we had the clearer chances, but those of us up front failed to convert them. We had three opportunities — one fell to me, one to Pipa (Gonzalo Higuain) and one to Rodrigo (Palacio).”
Messi concluded by lamenting: “After failing to get past the quarter finals for so long, we managed to get to the final, which is still something. Even so, we’re leaving here disappointed not to win the trophy given the way the final played out. That leaves us feeling very annoyed and angry, but we now need to look to the future.”
Meanwhile, thousands of people greeted a crestfallen Messi and the rest of the Argentina team when the squad flew home to Buenos Aires on Monday.
Coach Alejandro Sabella led the team off the plane and onto three buses that took them to be welcomed by President Cristina Kirchner at the offices of the Argentine Football Association.