Guardian, Wednesday, March 5, 2014 6:05 PM
Argentina legend Diego Maradona
insists that compatriot Lionel Messi
does not need a World Cup winner’s medal to be considered one of soccer's all-time greats.
In an interview with La Nacion, Maradona, who lifted the World Cup in 1986 and coached Argentina to the quarterfinals in 2010, said: "Messi doesn't need to win the World Cup to be the best player in
the world. (If he did) it would be great for Argentina, the fans and Lio, but (winning) a World Cup or not won't take away any of his achievements up to now to be among the greatest."
Maradona also said the Barcelona striker had a fantastic World Cup four years ago despite failing to score in five games. "Messi had an exceptional World Cup with me ... and no one said so. (Was it)
because he didn't score? He turned all the goalkeepers into stars," the former Napoli star said. "I approached him and told him he'd have many World Cups to get revenge. I said it with all my heart.
While the rest were thinking about our return (home) he was there, head bowed, crying."
At this year’s World Cup in Brazil, Argentina drew Bosnia, Iran and Nigeria in Group F.
Maradona noted that there are three other countries with a serious chance of lifting the trophy. "There's Spain, Germany and there's Brazil with a tremendous defense,” he said. “You think
of Brazil's defense and six or seven names come to mind, you think of their attack and there's only Neymar. For Lio it will be a test of character, to bring out all that crying he has in his heart.
Brazil can be his great revenge."
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