6 years ago, Messi quit the national team and a 15-year-old boy wrote him a letter. In Qatar, the two won the title together
Lionel Messi ended his World Cup career triumphantly and almost a week later, the football world has not stopped discussing the achievement of Argentina and its captain.
Winning the 2022 World Cup title is a happy ending to a long, epic and fascinating tale of Messi in the national team, worthy of a Hollywood movie with its twists and turns.
The darkest part of this story was six years ago, and it is worth looking at it today in a completely different context, when we are now aware of the happy ending.
In 2016, Messi shockingly quit the national team due to the many disappointments that had accumulated and suddenly Argentina was without its leader. Then a 15-year-old boy with big football dreams wrote him an open letter on Facebook, asking him to come back – a seemingly small detail in the whole situation.
However, at the World Cup in Qatar, this same boy was already playing side by side with the genius, became the main player of Argentina and finally lifted the cup together with Messi. Unbelievable!
That summer of 2016 marked Argentina’s fourth loss at a major final in 9 years. The nation’s hopes for Messi were tied to trophies and a glorious era for the Albiceleste, but the leader could never match his success at club level with the national team.
In fact, he went on to go without a single major title with Argentina at men’s football level, and his honors ended with success at the 2005 World Youth Cup and Olympic gold medals three years later (with the under-23 team).
Messi dreamed of the Copa America and the World Cup, but suffered a loss in the 2014 World Cup final and then two consecutive Copa America finals against Chile.
Leo missed the first penalty for Argentina in the second final against the Chileans and that was the final straw.
“The national team is over for me. I did everything I could. It hurts that we’re not champions. We’ve already lost four finals, I really tried. That’s what I wanted most of all, but I didn’t get it, so I think everything it’s over,” announced a devastated Messi, still reeling from the defeat.
“I think it’s the best for everyone. First of all for me, but then for the others. I think a lot of people want exactly that and they’re not happy, just like we’re not happy that we played a final but didn’t we won”.
“It is very difficult, but the decision has been made. I will not try again and there is no going back,” he added.
He was obviously also affected by the constant criticism of him from people in Argentina who expected a lot and blamed every failure on the No. 1 footballer in the world.
Fortunately, the superstar changed his mind less than two months later when he was called up for the World Cup qualifiers.
He chose to fight rather than surrender, and it took him a few more years to reach his peak with the “gauchos” as well. First, he won the coveted Copa America last year, and now he has lifted the World Cup as a 35-year-old veteran.
Despite all the emotions surrounding the Argentina team after the success over France, there was someone who remembered and dug up Enzo Fernandez’s letter to Messi from 2016.
It’s safe to say that Fernandez was one of the most pleasant surprises of the tournament in Qatar and became a key figure in the Albiceleste’s midfield en route to the title.
In 2016, however, he is still just an ambitious teenager from River Plate School who can’t bear the news that his great hero will no longer be playing for Argentina.
“How could we convince you if we play terrible? How will we convince you if we haven’t had one percent of the weight that falls on your shoulders in our lives?” Enzo wrote at the time.
“You wake up every morning, look in the mirror and know that over 40 million people not only want you to do everything perfectly, but are absurdly convinced that they can only demand perfection from you. How can we convince you if we can’t we will understand that you are a human being – a person of unparalleled talent, the best football player on the planet, but still a person.”
“How can we convince you if we don’t stop for a second and realize that you are not responsible for the anger that the losses bring us. Let us look in the mirror and ask ourselves what would happen if we demanded of ourselves and one percent of what we demand of this boy. A boy we don’t even know.”
“Do whatever you want Lionel, but please consider the option of staying. Stay to have fun, that’s what these people took away from you.”
“With such an overwhelming burden on you, they’ve managed to take the most noble thing out of the game – enjoyment.”
“As a child you must have dreamed of representing your country and having fun. Watching you play for the Albiceleste is the greatest pride in the world. Playing for fun because when you’re having fun, you just have no idea how much fun we’re having ” Fernandez concludes his touching address.
Six years later, Enocs Fernandes is now not only a boy with a big heart, but also a top player who took the award for the best young player at the World Cup in Qatar.
The Benfica midfielder is wanted by a number of top clubs, has become a top target for Liverpool and is rumored to have rejected a €100m bid for him in recent days.
Enzo, 21, clearly has a huge future in football, but his fate, like so many others, is tied to the magic of Messi.
And if Leo hadn’t changed his mind since that 2016, none of this would have been possible.