'I felt enormous joy' - Leeds United's Marcelo Bielsa reveals emotion behind Lionel Messi's Copa America triumph with Argentina

Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa says he felt 'enormous joy' seeing Lionel Messi lift silverware with his country.

Saturday, 7th August 2021, 3:48 pm
Lionel Messi celebrates with the Copa America trophy. Pic: Getty

Argentina claimed the 2021 Copa America title in Brazil last month - a victory which handed Messi his first ever trophy at international level.

Messi was instrumental for his nation this summer at the delayed tournament, scoring four goals and recording five assists.

The success was the first Argentina have enjoyed since their 1993 triumph in the same competition.

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Bielsa took charge of La Albiceleste for five years earlier in his coaching career, a reign in the dugout which ran from 1999 to 2004.

He led Argentina to Olympic gold in Athens 2004 and oversaw 85 games as national team head coach, returning 56 wins, 18 draws and 11 defeats.

Messi was often criticised for not turning his success at club level with Catalan giants Barcelona into international glory.

The 34-year-old, though, answered his doubters with victory over hosts Brazil in mid-July.

Whites boss Bielsa has revealed his delight at seeing his countryman and fellow former Newell's Old Boys academy graduate break his trophy duck for Argentina.

"I felt enormous joy for everyone," Bielsa told DAZN of Messi's Copa America victory last month.

"For him, who persevered, fought, endured, hoped and triumphed, and that is a countercultural message. We live in the culture of the immediate and Messi, for not having won, suffered all kinds of attacks.

"It gave me joy for him, it gave me joy for his teammates, who honoured him, it gave me joy for the coaching staff and it gave me joy for the Argentine people, who are so in need of being able to be happy about something.

"I felt very proud, I felt represented, I felt a part and I was genuinely happy."

Messi is currently a free agent having left the Nou Camp earlier this week due to Barcelona being unable to re-sign him because of La Liga's financial rules.

Bielsa, meanwhile, was also asked about the growth of football clubs across the world outside of their usual local fan base.

The globalisation of the sport has seen big European leagues such as the Premier League, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and La Liga become hugely popular all over the world, paving the way for teams to attract fans from other countries.

"How can we be happy that in Rosario, in my city, we see a boy with a Real Madrid shirt or go to Africa and see a boy with a Bayern Munich shirt?," Bielsa responded.

"The love [for football] has to start with your own, with that your place, with who you are and what's at hand. There are 5 or 10 global teams, who is going to pay attention to their own?

He added about English football: “The English public is not the general public. Look at what phenomenon: more than in love with the game, they are in love with the shirt they love."