Lionel Messi had just turned six when Argentina last won the Copa America, capping off a second-successive tournament title with a 2-1 win over Mexico.
Fast forward to present day, where Messi has almost every club honor imaginable, but just a 2008 Olympic gold medal on his Argentina file.
[ COPA AMERICA: Peru beats Venezuela ]
With Saturday bringing Messi his 100th cap as an Argentine, the 27-year-old superstar says he’d trade it all for this year’s tournament championship in Chile.
“I would give it all up to win the Copa America,” he told La Nacion. “This group deserves it for the way they fight. We had a great World Cup and we deserve it. It’s what I picture. Winning the Copa America would us some give peace of mind for the [coming World Cup] qualifiers. Not only for my teammates, for the coach and for me. For the country. The fans also want us to succeed.”
On his 100th cap, which will come in Saturday’s Group B contest against Jamaica, Messi added: “I’m very happy to be here and hopefully I can celebrate another victory and once and for all win a title with Argentina. In these 100 games I have had incredible experiences, really great times. They’re unforgettable.
“I’ve been through situations that have helped me grow as a player, but unfortunately with no title to show for it. Hopefully I’ll have one to go with these 100 games.”
It would be an absolute shock if Argentina fell to Jamaica, let alone miss out on one of the three third-place berths, and getting first or second in the group allows La Albiceleste to avoid hosts Chile until the final. And with Brazil losing Neymar for at least a match, there’s a slim chance Argentina could avoid the Brazilians, too, until a potential final.