Lionel Messi Officially Confirms Louis Van Gaal’s Unfair Treatment of ‘Idol’ Riquelme as Reason for Controversial Celebration at World Cup

Published 12/30/2023, 2:08 PM EST

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In the Netflix documentary, ‘Captains of the World,’ Lionel Messi provides an official explanation for his contentious celebration directed toward Louis van Gaal during the FIFA World Cup. As many had speculated, the reason behind it is closely tied to Argentine legend and Messi’s idol, Juan Roman Riquelme. During his time at Barcelona, Riquelme frequently performed this cupping celebration towards Van Gaal.

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The story goes like this! Riquelme signed for Barcelona for three years in 2002. However, he only played one season with the team before being loaned to Villarreal due to conflicts with the coach at the time, Louis van Gaal. And Messi didn’t forget about this incident.

Lionel Messi didn’t like Van Gaal’s treatment of his idol

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In the documentary, journalist Julien Laurens shed some light, stating, “Van Gaal nearly destroyed the career of Messi’s idol Juan Roman Riquelme.” Laurens elaborated on how the Dutch coach adamantly refused to include the Argentine midfielder in the team lineup, which led to Riquelme taunting Van Gaal by celebrating with the same ear-cupping celebration after scoring a goal.

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According to Laurens’ account, “Messi never forgot this.” The Inter Miami forward then shared insights into his ongoing communication with Riquelme, stating, “For many years, I’ve been talking to Roman. And during the World Cup, we spoke after the matches.” Furthermore, in the journalist’s view, “Van Gaal making himself the center of the story has allowed Messi to create a target for the Argentinian team to rally against.”

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It was evident in the quarter-final World Cup match when Messi cupped his ear towards the Dutch team’s bench after converting a penalty. However, this two-decade-old event was not the sole reason for the 36-year-old to lose his control against the Netherlands. Moreover, provocative comments before the game also played a crucial role in his outburst.

Louis Van Gaal’s comments before the match triggered La Pulga

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Throughout the quarter-final match, Lionel Messi engaged in heated confrontations with Louis van Gaal and Dutch striker Wout Weghorst. According to the Argentine maestro, it was the “off-field talk and disrespect” triggering such a response, as he disclosed in an interview.

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He also mentioned, “I believe Van Gaal intentionally provoked me, and their goalkeeper also made some remarks before the match.” Messi considered this behavior unacceptable, and it eventually sparked a burst of emotions during a match that resulted in a staggering 18 yellow cards ushered out.

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Written by:

Saransh Chauhan

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My name is Saransh Chauhan and I am an experienced soccer writer at EssentiallySports. With over a year of experience at EssentiallySports, I have covered various aspects of the magnificent sport. While I strive to provide comprehensive coverage of core sports topics, I also explore off-court and entertainment subjects.
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Edited by:

Jacob Gijy

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