Tributes continue to pour in for Lionel Messi following Argentina’s World Cup triumph.
South American football’s governing body on Monday presented the 35-year-old Argentine star with a statue, which will be placed in the Conmebol museum next to those of Pele and Diego Maradona.
Messi, holding a replica of the World Cup trophy, stood beside the life-size statue at an unveiling ceremony at the South American football federation headquarters in Luque, Paraguay, before the Copa Libertadores draw on Monday.
The 35-year-old emulated the late Maradona by leading Argentina to their first World Cup triumph in 36 years in Qatar in December.
“I had never dreamed or thought about this,” Messi said. “My dream was to enjoy what I liked when I was little, to be a professional football player, to do what I always loved in this life.
“I had a very long road, many decisions and defeats, but I always looked ahead and wanted to go for a triumph, for a victory.
“I think that is the most important thing, to fight for your dreams, that everything is possible and to enjoy the game, which is the most beautiful thing there is.”
The Argentine Football Federation renamed the national team’s training facility after Messi on Saturday, two days after he scored his 800th career goal in a friendly win over Panama.