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18th Dec 2022

Roy Keane pays glowing tribute to Lionel Messi’s ‘greatest quality’ after World Cup triumph

Patrick McCarry

World Cup team

“They’ve been singing every night for the past two and a half weeks. God help us tonight!”

Roy Keane was bracing himself for a sleepless night, and hordes of celebrating Argentina fans, but it was all worth it to see Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé leave it all out there in a World Cup final to remember.

Argentina claimed the World Cup after a 4-2 shoot-out win that followed a breath-taking 3-3 draw, played out over 120+ minutes. Messi scored twice, Mbappé bagged a hat-trick and Argentina goalkeeper Emi Martinez was up to his usual shoot-out antics as Lionel Scaloni’s side got over the line.

Ahead of the game, Keane was asked for his take on who was better – Messi or Maradona. The Cork native wisely sat back on a ‘wait and see’ line, as a formidable French side stood in the way. On Maradona, he did state:

“I love the fact he wasn’t perfect off the pitch. He was a bit of a boy, a bit of a character.”

At half-time, Keane noted that Mbappé ‘hasn’t shown up yet’ but, halfway through extra time with the game then tied at 2-2, he was happy to ‘eat my words’. As for the game itself, the former Manchester United and Ireland captain said his nerves had been shredded. When it was all said and done, he was left a mix of exhausted and exalted.

Roy Keane

Lionel Messi on the double

As the ITV panel reflected on the Argentinean victory, Roy Keane raved about one crucial Lionel Messi moment and, later, his greatest quality as a footballer.

“We could be critical of the goalkeeper,” said Keane of Hugo Lloris parrying a Lautaro Martinez shot into Messi’s path, “but for all of Messi’s greatness, he’s on the spot for a tap-in.

“It was a really good strike. the goalkeeper could have pushed the Martinez shot wide, but there was a lot of power in it. Messi, one touch finish, on the spot. For all his greatness, he’s there for that [rebound]. Brilliant.”

Kylian Mbappé would equalise after that Messi goal, forcing the shoot-out that Argentina won.

Roy Keane

Roy Keane on Lionel Messi’s greatest quality

Roy Keane says the realisation of his World Cup victory may only ‘hit Messi over the next few weeks and months’.

“It’s nice to win a trophy,” he said, “but it is more of a relief. The pressure he has been under for the last few years, and to win it in his last game for his country, what an ending for him and his family.”

Talk turned to Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni reviving his side’s fortunes after they lost their opening game to Saudi Arabia. Calling on Lionel Messi when you need a big moment is no harm, though. Keane then spoke about the 35-year-old’s best footballing quality.

“A sign of greatness is when you make the players around you better, and he does that. That’s not up for debate. He’s a great, great player. It’s great to see him win that trophy.”

We will leave the final words with Roy Keane. One legend talking about the very best player on his generation.

“Great finish for Messi, to finish your international career. Fantastic.”

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