Argentina’s World Cup win: the team’s six most moving reactions

by Amy Booth
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The record-breaking gatherings in the streets of Buenos Aires have shown what an emotional moment Argentina’s World Cup victory is. But if it was heartfelt on the streets of Buenos Aires, it pales in comparison to the reactions of the team. From the locker room to the plane home, these striking post-match moments encapsulate the climax of the country’s first win in 36 years.

Messi’s World Cup Cuddle

On Tuesday morning, as the team prepared to leave the Argentine Football Association’s facilities in Ezeiza for their dramatic victory lap of Buenos Aires, superstar captain Lionel Messi posted three photos of himself in bed with the World Cup, cradling it like a lover. At the time of writing, the photos had been on Instagram for nine hours and attracted 41.1 million likes. We reckon his wife Antonela can probably forgive him for straying this once.

El Dibu and the Golden Glove

Goalkeeper Emiliano “El Dibu” Martínez received the Golden Glove prize for the best goalkeeper of the tournament, after a brilliant tournament. His brilliant save of a shot by France’s Kolo Muani during extra time in the final against France pushed the game to a penalty shootout, which Argentina eventually won. When presented with the trophy, El Dibu promptly took the trophy and held it to his crotch, penis-style. The gesture made international headlines and sparked controversy, with some commentators panning it as lewd and others decrying it as sexist. The 30-year-old, who lives in London and plays for Aston Villa, said during a radio interview that it was a response to French fans who were booing him. 

Messi’s makeshift mum

As soon as the game ended, a select few of the team’s nearest and dearest rushed onto the pitch to celebrate. The eyes of the world immediately gravitated to a blond woman in an Argentina shirt who swept Messi up in a huge hug. Some jumped to the conclusion that it was his mother. In fact, it was Antonia Farías, the team’s beloved cook, who has been working with the squad for ten years.

Otamendi’s Insta

In an Instagram Live vid that made the streets of Buenos Aires look like a toddler’s tea party, defender Nicolás Otamendi streamed the scene in the locker room after the game ended. Between beers, dancing, football chants, a Chucky doll and Julián Álvarez diving head first into a bin, it’s a no-holds-barred look at the elation, relief and party spirit of 26 men who have just become world champions.

“Le pude hacer upa”

In a rather more wholesome post on the plane home, El Dibu posted two pictures of himself with the World Cup: one cradling it in his arms like a newborn baby, the other with his arm draped around the trophy as if it were father and son’s first holiday. He captioned the post “Le pude hacer upa”, which roughly translates as “I managed to give it a piggy-back.” He’s had plenty of practice: Martínez and his wife, Mandinha, have two young children: Santi and Ava.

Scaloni’s tears

Perhaps the most moving of all the post-game reactions was that of the team’s coach, Lionel Scaloni. The 44-year-old former midfielder and defender touched the pitch, crossed himself and then burst into tears, as midfielder Leandro Paredes wraps him in a tight hug. Scaloni, namesake of the team’s “Scaloneta” nickname, has been in the world’s lens just as much as the players themselves over the past month. The video, which doubtless prompted plenty of fans to well up, too, seems to encapsulate the rollercoaster ride that was this World Cup: from the shock loss to Saudi Arabia in the first match to the brawl of a battle with the Netherlands, the team fought tooth and nail to win that cup, and tens of millions of fans in Argentina and around the world suffered through it with them. In that sense, Scaloni is expressing the emotions of the whole nation.

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