Lionel Messi wins the World Cup for Argentina and tearfully hugs his sons after winning the biggest final since 1966

FOOTIE icon Lionel Messi fell to his knees in tears and hugged his two young sons after yesterday winning the World Cup in the biggest final since 1966.

The Argentine skipper, 35, led his country to victory in an epic game against France – and then couldn’t wait to celebrate with his family.

Lionel Messi tearfully hugged his two sons on the pitch after his World Cup win over France in the final

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Lionel Messi tearfully hugged his two sons on the pitch after his World Cup win over France in the finalPhoto credit: Getty
The Argentina skipper, 35, led his country to victory in an epic match against the reigning champions - pictured raising the trophy surrounded by team-mates

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The Argentina skipper, 35, led his country to victory in an epic match against the reigning champions – pictured raising the trophy surrounded by team-matesPhoto credit: Reuters

He tearfully hugged his mother Celia Maria Cuccittini on the pitch before his two eldest sons Mateo, seven, and Thiago, ten, ran to their father for a cuddle.

Argentine fans in the stadium and around the world watched as their hero beamed as he lifted the golden trophy – capping a brilliant career.

The little wizard, playing in his last tournament, scored a penalty as his side went 2-0 up, but late goals from French superstar Kylian Mbappe sent the thrilling game into extra time at Qatar’s Lusail Stadium.

Both Messi and Mbappe scored again before Argentina won 4-2 on penalties in a thrilling final.

TV football presenter and former England striker Gary Lineker said afterwards: “It has been an absolute privilege to see Lionel Messi for almost two decades.

France's hat-trick hero Kylian Mbappe is dejected after being awarded the Golden Boot

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France’s hat-trick hero Kylian Mbappe is dejected after being awarded the Golden BootPhoto credit: Reuters
Fans celebrate at the home of the late Argentine legend Maradona in Buenos Aires

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Fans celebrate at the home of the late Argentine legend Maradona in Buenos AiresPhoto credit: AFP
Icon Maradona died in 2020 at the age of 60

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Icon Maradona died in 2020 at the age of 60Photo credit: AFP
Argentina fans in London's Piccadilly Circus celebrate their first World Cup in 36 years

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Argentina fans in London’s Piccadilly Circus celebrate their first World Cup in 36 yearsPhoto credit: Mike Ruane / Story Picture Agency

“Moment by moment fascinating, breathtakingly happy football. He’s a gift from the football gods. So delighted that he has lifted the ultimate prize in our sport. Gracias y felicidades, campeon.”

Comic and Three Lions singer David Baddiel tweeted: “What the fuck game is this. A World Cup final is almost never like this.”

TalkTV host and Sun columnist Piers Morgan tweeted: “Absolutely thrilling. What an advertisement for the beautiful game.

“Congratulations to Lionel Messi, his team. Compliments to the French who gave their all, especially the brilliant Mbappe. football uh . bloody hell!”

Prince William tweeted his congratulations to Messi, calling him the GOAT (greatest of all time) with an emoji.

He wrote: “What. A. Final. Congratulations to Argentina and to Messi. Compliments to France – both teams played brilliantly. W”

England’s 1966 hat-trick hero Sir Geoff Hurst paid tribute to France ace Mbappe, 23, who matched him by becoming the second man to score three goals in a World Cup final.

Sir Geoff, 81, said: “Congratulations to Mbappe whatever happens. I had a great run!”

Messi became the first Argentine to win the World Cup since the late Diego Maradona in 1986 – and joined him as the god of football on the nation’s podium.

Five hundred fans gathered at the former home of Maradona – who died aged 60 in 2020 – to watch the victory on a big poolside screen after its new owners opened the doors for an exclusive party.

Expat Argentines in the UK celebrated with an impromptu party outside gastropub Moo Cantina in Pimlico, south London. Others gathered in London’s Piccadilly Circus and waved their country’s flag.

More than 100,000 supporters filled the streets of Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires.

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Messi wins the World Cup after a hat-trick by Mbappe in a thriller

Footage showed them jumping and hugging as Gonzalo Montiel scored home the winning penalty.

  • TELLY football pundit Gary Neville sparked fury yesterday after apparently comparing the rights of migrant workers in Qatar to the UK nurses’ strike over pay. The ex-England defender, 47, launched a tirade about the government’s treatment of NHS workers on ITV ahead of the big game.
  • Additional Reporting: THOMAS GODFREY

PLAY WITH THE BEST

By Nick Parker at Lusail Stadium

I saw Gazza’s tears at Italia 90 and Beckham, who were sent off in 1998, and after seven World Cups I thought I’d witnessed every possible drama.

Most seasoned footie watchers like me expected Argentina and France to engage in a boring, close and low-key duel. How wrong we were.

The teams gave us a game that eclipsed the fireworks surrounding Lionel Messi lifting the trophy.

But with ten minutes remaining, France were still without a single shot on goal. I had already written my story about the triumphant Messi.

It included the line: “French President Emmanuel Macron showed up with 5,000 fans – but it was a shame her team didn’t come.”

Then, within 90 seconds, Kylian Mbappe equalized with a penalty and a brilliant volley. That meant extra time and therefore more expectations of a safe, risk-free game.

The teams had none of that. Messi emerged with a muddled third, only for Mbappe to hit back with a second penalty.

Argentina prevailed in the ensuing penalty shootout in the greatest World Cup final of all time.

https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6944801/lionel-messi-hugs-sons-world-cup-win/ Lionel Messi wins the World Cup for Argentina and tearfully hugs his sons after winning the biggest final since 1966

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