President Obama calls Messi ‘genius’ and backs him despite World Cup disappointment

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Former U.S. President Barack Obama spoke Tuesday morning at a marketing and business conference in Colombia, and it’s no surprise that, as an avid sports fan, he waded into one of the big sports stories in South America for the past decade: Lionel Messi and the World Cup.

“Even people that we consider geniuses work with other people in order to develop their style,” Obama said at the EXMA Conference, via Diario AS. “In Argentina, even though Messi is wonderful, they have problems winning the World Cup.

[READ: U-20 World Cup Roundup]

“My advice to young people is that we have to recognize very few people achieve great things on their own.”

Obama’s comments come on the back of Messi absorbing a lot of anger and rage for Argentina’s failure to win a World Cup during his career. Since making his international debut in 2015, Messi and Argentina have failed to win both the World Cup and Copa America, coming in as runners-up in Russia in 2014, and in South America in 2004, 2007, 2015 and 2016. Messi, always the bridesmaid, it seems.

Of course, Messi shouldn’t be solely to blame. Gonzalo Higuain missed key chances in both the 2014 World Cup final and 2015 Copa America final. Argentina’s defense completely collapsed at this past summer’s World Cup, with France absolutely thrashing the Albiceleste.

While it’s unlikely, perhaps the Argentina soccer public can take some of Obama’s words to heart, and appreciate everything they’ve enjoyed from Messi while understanding that soccer is a collective.

Messi is back with the Argentina squad ahead of this summer’s Copa America in Brazil. Obama has previously stated that his two children are big fans of Messi, and had hoped to meet him during the 2016 Copa America, hosted in the U.S.