BUENOS AIRES: Argentina captain Lionel Messi did not deserve to win the World Cup “Golden Ball” as the tournament’s best player, according to his compatriot and former great Diego Maradona.
Messi received the award after Argentina lost 1-0 to Germany in the final on Sunday but he looked far from happy as he went up to collect the trophy.
“I could see he didn’t want to go up and collect it,” Maradona said on his television show “De zurda”, adding that “marketing people” had made a decision he described as “unfair”.
Maradona led Argentina to the World Cup in 1986 and was named the tournament’s best player but although Messi scored four goals in the group stage he failed to find the net in the knockout rounds and was subdued in the final.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter also expressed surprise at the choice yesterday which was made by the soccer governing body’s technical study group.
“Shall I be diplomatic or tell the truth, OK the truth...I was a bit surprised he was the choice but his goals were decisive at the start of the tournament,” Blatter told reporters at his final media briefing of the 2014 World Cup.
Meanwhile, Argentina captain Lionel Messi regretted his side’s missed chances after Germany beat his side.
Gonzalo Higuain, Rodrigo Palacio and Messi himself all passed up clear opportunities chances to put Argentina in front before Goetze struck seven minutes from time.
“There is sadness to finish in this way, I think we deserved a little more today”, said the Barcelona star.
“The better chances were ours and between the forwards we couldn’t take them,” he told Direct TV.
Messi was still crowned as the player of the tournament for his performances and four goals in seven matches.
However, he insisted the individual award was scant consolation for missing out on a much bigger collective prize.
“The truth is it doesn’t interest me at this moment,” he said of the award.
“We wanted to win the World Cup for all the people in Argentina and we couldn’t do it.
“We tried, but we didn’t have the luck we had in other games.
And Messi insisted it was hard to take consolation from carrying his country to the final for the first time in 24 years in the immediate aftermath of the defeat.
“After a long time not getting past the quarter-finals we managed to get to the final, but today there is the disappointment of having lost in the last minutes of extra time.”
However, Messi’s failure to win the World Cup does not affect his status as an all-time great, according to coach Alejandro Sabella.
Messi was bidding to emulate his compatriot Diego Maradona by inspiring Argentina to victory in the final in Rio de Janeiro, but instead the four-time world footballer of the year finished on the losing side as Germany prevailed 1-0.
The 27-year-old Barcelona superstar squandered a glorious chance early in the second half when he shot wide with only goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to beat, but Sabella said that his captain had nothing to prove.
“It is a very demanding tournament and it is drains everyone physically. He is already among the greatest of all time,” Sabella said.
Despite Argentina’s defeat, Messi was awarded the Golden Ball as the tournament’s outstanding player, and Sabella felt he was a worthy recipient.
“I think yes he deserved it, because he played a great World Cup,” said the Argentina coach.
“He was a fundamental factor for where we ended up. It was thoroughly deserved.”
Messi scored four goals in the group phase, including a fine solo goal against Bosnia-Hercegovina and a stunning injury-time winner against Iran, but he failed in the knockout stage. AGENCIES