Roy Keane reflected on being “privileged” to watch Lionel Messi in person as he drove Argentina to a 2022 World Cup semi-final win against Croatia.
The 35-year-old was an inspiration as he scored a first-half penalty and then produced an outstanding assist for Julian Alvarez’s second.
That sealed a 3-0 victory over their opponents and sees them through to Sunday’s final, and they now wait to see whether they come up against Morocco or France.
Speaking on ITV after the game, former Manchester United and Republic of Ireland midfielder Roy Keane noted the turnaround after Argentina’s opening defeat to Saudi Arabia.
“They were on their knees, today they ended up very comfortable,” he said.
“I feel very privileged to be watching him [Messi].”
Looking at his punditry colleagues Ian Wright and Gary Neville, Keane joked: “I was better than the two lads, [but] what we’re seeing here live, and he does it against really good players. What we’re seeing tonight, we talk about geniuses…”
Keane also praised Messi for adapting his game now that he is 35.
“He picks and chooses, he’s so smart. He’ll read a situation, that’s where he’s so smart,” he said.
Former England and Arsenal striker Wright believes that Argentina are now working together, determined to give Messi a shot at lifting the trophy iin what is probably his final World Cup.
“They’re on that journey, they’ve got a genius with them,” he began. “They’ve got a team around him now who are fighting tooth and nail not just for themselves to make sure this guy is cemented.”
Ex-England and Manchester United defender Neville echoed both Wright and Keane over Messi’s continued performances.
“What mesmerises me is [Josko] Gvardiol is 13, 14 stone, he’s ragdolling him. Twelve years ago he was going past people and you’re not coming back, now he’s doing it in different ways.
“It does feel like a mission, the way he’s playing.
“The rest of his team-mates are putting in a massive shift for him, and that’s what he needs.”