Inter Milan forward Lautaro Martinez has praised Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) superstar Lionel Messi's leadership after helping the Nerazzurri qualify for the UEFA Champions League final.
Martinez scored the winner for Inter as they beat arch-rivals AC Milan 1-0 in the Champions League semifinal on Tuesday (May 16). The result saw Simone Inzaghi's side win the tie 3-0 on aggregate to qualify for the final.
The Nerazzurri have secured a place in the Champions League final for the first time in 13 years. The last time they qualified for the final (2010), they went on to win the trophy, beating Bayern Munich 2-0 under Jose Mourinho as part of a continental treble.
Apart from scoring the winner, Martinez also captained Inter on the night. The Argentina international has said that he will remember the game for the rest of his life for that reason.
Martinez added that he learned leadership from Messi, who led Argentina to glory in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The forward also stressed that he's thankful to the PSG superstar and other teammates for helping him through tough times.
"This season I have grown so much mentally," Martinez said (h/t @AlbicelesteTalk on Twitter). "I have teammates who help me grow, I learned a lot from Leo Messi, talking to him. He helped me in everything. Carrying that World Cup in your arms is special. I learned a lot about the leadership from him there. Being a captain is special. Today’s evening will remain for a lifetime for me."
Inter Milan face Manchester City or Real Madrid in the Champions League final at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey, on June 10. The Cityzens and Los Blancos lock horns at the Etihad in the second leg of their semifinal on Wednesday (May 17) after a 1-1 draw in the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu last week.
How have Inter Milan's Lautaro Martinez and PSG's Lionel Messi fared when playing together for Argentina?
Lautaro Martinez has made 48 appearances across competitions for Argentina. The Inter Milan forward played alongside PSG's Lionel Messi in 35 of those games. The pair have combined to score four times.
Martinez and PSG superstar Messi have won three trophies with La Albiceleste. They lifted the Copa America and the CONMEBOL-UEFA Cup of Champions in 2021 and 2022 respectively. They then helped the country win their first FIFA World Cup in 36 years in Qatar last December.
The Inter Milan star featured in six of Argentina's seven games at the World Cup. Four of those appearances came off the bench. Martinez did not register a goal contribution. However, he successfully converted one of Argentina's penalties in the shootout in the final against France.