Messi honored with a statue at South America’s soccer HQ

Argentina's soccer star Lionel Messi holds a replica of the FIFA World Cup trophy next to a statue of himself during a ceremony at the CONMEBOL headquarters in Asuncion, Monday, March 27, 2023. CONMEBOL authorities held a ceremony to honor the Argentine squad after they won the World Cup, prior to the draw for the group stage of Libertadores and Sudamericana tournaments. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)
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LUQUE, Paraguay (AP) — The tributes continue to pour in for Lionel Messi following Argentina’s World Cup triumph.

South American soccer’s governing body on Monday presented the 35-year-old Argentine star with a statue, which will be placed in the CONMEBOL museum next to those of Pelé and Diego Maradona.

Messi also received replicas of the World Cup and the Finalissima trophy, which Argentina won against Italy, during the ceremony before the Copa Libertadores draw. His teammates and coach Lionel Scaloni received miniature trophies as well, including that of the 2021 Copa America lifted in Brazil.

“We are living a very special and beautiful moment, getting a lot of love,” Messi said during the tribute. “It was time for a South American team to win the World Cup again.”

Argentina beat Panama 2-0 on Thursday in Buenos Aires in its first international friendly since winning the World Cup title in Qatar last December. Scaloni’s team will face Curacao on Tuesday to celebrate with its fans in the countryside city of Santiago del Estero.