Angel Di Maria has revealed that a speech by Lionel Messi after Argentina’s defeat by Brazil at the Copa America this summer left “everyone in tears”.
The Albiceleste were beaten 2-0 by the tournament hosts in the semi-final in Belo Horizonte in July,
Despite the obvious disappointment, Di Maria says Messi, who captained the side at the 2019 tournament, inspired the squad with a rousing post-match speech.
“Messi said some beautiful words when we were eliminated by Brazil,” Di Maria told ESPN . “Messi told us he was proud of the team we had built.
“That we had not been together much as some had not been called up [to the senior team] before. Yet, it felt as though we had all been together for many years.
“He said that we had all rowed in the same direction from the first day. That he was very proud of the youngsters for their commitment to this jersey and if they were there and gave what they gave at the Copa America, it was because they more than deserved to be there.
“Once he finished, everyone was in tears because it touched everyone’s hearts, especially the youngsters.
“The young players are the ones that have to carry on in the same path. It will not be easy for them. They will have to work and continue giving their all as sooner or later, luck will be on our side.”
Messi has often been criticised , particularly back in his homeland, for failing to replicate his Barcelona form with the national side.
It has been suggested the 31-year-old lacks the passion required to lead the team as he is often too quiet on the field and fails to sing the national anthem.
Di Maria has hit back at those suggestions, praising his captaincy of the team during this summer’s tournament in Brazil.
“There was a lot of criticism that he didn’t sing [the national anthem], that he didn’t talk,” added the Paris Saint-Germain forward.
“This Copa America was different. He proved it. What made me happier was to see how he spoke in front of the group, how he spoke to reporters, what he said.
“The important thing is that Leo is like this. I like this Messi.”