‘We have Messi, we have a chance to win the World Cup’ – Argentina great Gallardo
They are the same colors and nickname now represented by five-time world’s best player Lionel Messi, the current Argentina captain, who will defend them at Russia during the World Cup 2018 this summer.
Gallardo made 44 appearances for La Albiceleste, representing his nation in the 1998 and 2002 World Cup finals. Since retiring, he has moved into management, gaining recognition for his success with River Plate, which included winning the Copa Libertadores in 2015.
He is a man that knows just what it means to pull on that famed jersey at a World Cup finals.
“I think that the point is you feel like you represent your team and your country,” Gallardo reminisced about his 1998 World Cup. “I think that it creates a fountain of intense emotions. Very intense because it is not just about patriotism, it is about playing in a jersey that has your country’s colors. You enjoy that the most, the process of playing.”
The former attacking midfielder has said that there is a buzz about the nation heading into the latest edition of the tournament, believing the 2014 losing finalists can go on further this year. And it’s all down to one man – Lionel Messi.
“I think Argentina has always been a leader in global football,” Gallardo said from River Plate’s magnificent Estadio Antonio Vespucio Liberti stadium. “I think now there are two or three teams in the world better than Argentina’ first Brazil, then Germany and Spain, and then us.
“Now that we have Messi on our team, we have a chance to win. We have this feeling. We feel like we can become the central team because we have Messi. But three national teams: Brazil, Germany and Spain, are better than us.”
Barcelona legend Messi visited Moscow in November 2017 to introduce the official FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia ball, and will play at Luzhniki Stadium against Iceland in the Russian capital.
Gallardo’s club side also carry a prestigious nickname. Known as “Los Millonarios”, River Plate have one of the richest histories in South American football and it was here that one of the world’s greatest ever players and future Real Madrid legend, Alfredo Di Stefano, began his career.
The team enjoy a fierce rivalry with Buenos Aires rivals Boca Juniors, where another Argentine rough diamond was uncovered – the great Diego Maradona, the man that Messi is so often compared to.
In his owns words, Maradona believes if Messi is to eclipse his career, he must win the World Cup. In Gallardo’s mind, and in that of many Argentinians, he stands the best chance of doing so at Russia 2018.