Lionel Messi’s mum has defended her star son from criticism over his World Cup penalty miss and admitted it hurts her when his loyalty to Argentina is questioned. Celia Messi also rubbished the idea that the Barcelona legend does not feel the same passion for his country as he does for his club.
On Argentina TV, days after Messi’s penalty miss and a disappointing 1-1 draw with Iceland, she said: “We suffer the criticism Leo receives when they say he doesn’t feel proud when he puts on the Argentinian shirt or that he plays for his country out of obligation.
“It’s not true. If you saw him, like we’ve seen him suffer and cry! “It hurts you to hear things like that.”
Speaking from her home city of Rosario, where Messi married his childhood sweetheart Antonela Rocuzzo last year, she added: “From here all his family are supporting him.
“I would give everything for this to be his World Cup. Fortunately people love him and transmit that to him and he values that a lot. “I think he’s optimistic and his dream is to win a World Cup. It’s what he wants the most. He looks calm to me. I told him to do what he knows best, to enjoy himself and I’ve told him all his family are supporting him.”
Despite being seen by many football lovers as the world’s best player, Messi has struggled with the pressure of living up to the standards set by Argentinian idol Diego Maradona.
He left Argentina during his childhood and has never played professional club football in his native country.
He admitted last year: “I am experiencing this period with the national team in a different way. I am more relaxed. When they criticise me, I experience it differently.”