Lionel Messi is honoured with a life-sized statue after his World Cup heroics for Argentina – and fans joke he has now ‘won the battle’ with Cristiano Ronaldo after the infamous TERRIBLE sculpture of the Portugal star on his home island
- Messi’s statue will stand in the CONMEBOL museum in Paraguay
- The Argentine No 10 was overwhelmed with emotion at the unveiling
- Ronaldo’s infamous statue at the airport in Funchal was replaced in 2018
A life-size statue of Lionel Messi that will sit in a museum alongside similar sculptures of Pele and Diego Maradona has been unveiled at an event celebrating Argentina’s World Cup triumph.
Messi looked emotional as he revealed the statue of himself, which will be housed in the CONMEBOL museum in Paraguay.
And after the ceremony, fans were quick to declare Messi the winner of the ‘statue battle’ against long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo’s statue – on display outside the airport in his home city of Funchal in Madeira, which is named after him – was the subject of mockery after its unveiling in 2017.
The bust was later replaced in 2018, 15 months after going on display, by one that was markedly less divisive.
However, the original statue has lived a longer life online, and fans of the Argentine superstar were quick to compare the controversial bust to Messi’s new artwork.
CONMEBOL awarded Messi a life-sized statue to stand in their museum alongside other South American footballing greats
Ronaldo’s statue, unveiled in 2017, only lasted 17 months before it was replaced
Fans took to Twitter to declare the Argentine No 10 the winner of the ‘statue battle’
One fan pointed out that ‘Messi won the statue battle’.
Another agreed, saying that: ‘They really did Ronaldo dirty with his statue compared to Messi’s statue’.
A third added: ‘A statue for Messi but look at what they did for the other guy’.
One fan was more pointed, saying: ‘If only Ronaldo had a World Cup, they would have paid more attention to sculpting his statue’.
Another Messi fan added: ‘Someone said Messi’s statue is a better player than Ronaldo’.
The former Real Madrid player has a number of statues in his image, including a second in his hometown which is 8ft tall.
A number of fans pointed out how Messi’s statue was a much stronger likeness than Ronaldo’s
Messi’s statue was unveiled as South America’s governing body for football hosted the entire Argentina team in an event dubbed ‘The Night of the Stars’ on Monday.
The life-sized statue of the No 10 holding the World Cup trophy will stand beside similar statues of Diego Maradona and Pele at the CONMEBOL museum in Luque, Paraguay.
Messi was visibly awestruck as the curtain raised on the statue, which was handed out later than night in miniature to a number of the player’s team-mates.
Overcome with emotion, the 35 year-old said that the statue was beyond his wildest dreams.
‘I never dreamed or thought about this,’ Messi stated. ‘My dream was to enjoy what I liked when I was little, to be a professional soccer 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 the most important thing [is] to fight for your dreams,’ the player added.
‘[To know] that everything is possible and to enjoy the game, which is the most beautiful thing there is.’
The Argentina captain continued to break records after a triumphant World Cup captain, scoring his 800th career goal on Thursday
The day before, the Paris Saint-Germain forward was celebrated by the Argentina Football Association the day before the ceremony when it was revealed that the national team’s training ground would be named in honour of their World Cup-winning captain.
National hero status firmly cemented by leading the South American side to glory in Qatar, Messi has continued to break records for the Albiceleste.
During Thursday’s friendly against Panama, which also featured a heartfelt tribute by the player to the Argentina fans in Buenos Aires, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner scored his 800th career goal.
With a goal against Curacao on Tuesday, Messi could reach 100 goals for his country alone.
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