Lionel Scaloni reflects on Argentina's FIFA World Cup victory in Spirit of Sport
Argentina’s FIFA World Cup-winning manager has reflected on their victory at Qatar 2022 in an exclusive interview with Laureus.
December 18 marks the anniversary of Argentina’s third World Cup triumph, and Lionel Scaloni was speaking with Laureus after receiving the Team of the Year Award at the 2023 Laureus World Sports Awards.
The World Cup-winning manager looked back at their unforgettable triumph, giving his personal insights about the team's tournament-defining moments and the emotions he felt during an incredible final.
Scaloni and Argentina will aim for a trophy treble next summer when his Lionel Messi-led team defend the Copa America, which they won in 2021. The final is to be played at the home of Inter Miami, Messi’s club home stadium.
Many point to the 2022 FIFA World Cup final as being one of the greatest finals ever - Argentina won 4-2 on penalties after a 3-3 draw against France - and looking back, Scaloni reserved praise for both sides.
“An unforgettable match. Both eternal and historic – it will forever live on in the minds of all of us," the former Argentina international said.
"Both teams played without thinking that it was a World Cup final, because sometimes you play with fear, but this was the complete opposite.
"At the time, I wasn't thinking about how well the game was being played or how much I was enjoying it, I was just caught up in the game. But it's true that, looking back on it, it was a very beautiful final that everyone will remember."
Following Argentina's triumph, the elation felt by Scaloni and his players inside the Lusail Stadium was matched back home in South America.
Defender Lisandro Martínez, also spoke to Laureus Spirit of Sport, and recalled how it felt at the time.
“As a world champion in your country, you can make so many millions of people happy. The whole country. And that was something, wow, that also made me really happy too."
Scaloni added to Martínez's reflections, as he recounted returning to Argentina with the FIFA World Cup trophy for the first time.
“It is unique and difficult to explain – I think you would have to live it: the feeling of seeing everybody, when the bus passed by very slowly, and seeing the faces of the people one by one, and thanking them.”
The journey to World Cup glory was not all plain sailing for Scaloni and his players though, a 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia in their opening group game shocked the footballing world. The manager shared with Laureus how he approached that defeat with his side.
“We hardly talked about that game, because it was a game that was best forgotten and above all because there was a pivotal game coming up against Mexico," Scaloni said. "We talked about it for maybe 10 seconds, I think, and moved on to what was coming next.
"And we knew that it could happen. The team had gone a long time without losing and in the end we possibly lost, depending on how you look at it, at the best or at the worst moment. We lost a World Cup game, but we still had the chance to turn the situation around"
Finally, Scaloni discussed the leadership of Messi, the 2023 Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, and the impact he has on those around him.
“As the captain, he is a leader and he drives his teammates on. And of course, he also leads by example, by beating his opponents.
"He's always helped us, he's always been great with us and it's a pleasure to coach him.”