Former Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard has revealed how he reacted to Lionel Messi's 2022 FIFA World Cup win with Argentina.
Rijkaard was Barcelona's manager between 2003 and 2008, winning the La Liga title twice, along with a UEFA Champions League trophy. He is also regarded as one of the Netherlands' greatest-ever players and managed the Oranje from 1998 to 2000.
He wouldn't have been pleased to see his country get eliminated in the quarter-finals at the hands of Lionel Messi's Argentina in Qatar. However, he was happy to see the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner finally get his hands on the FIFA World Cup trophy.
Speaking in an interview with Helden Magazine (h/t MARCA):
"It's not like tears rolled down my cheeks after the World Cup final, but I cheered like a puppy because Messi had done it. I was watching the final between Argentina and France, mainly as a Messi fan. I think he got what he wanted. he deserved [it]."
Lionel Messi scored a brace against France in the final and slotted home his spot-kick in the penalty shootout that resulted after 120 minutes of football. He ended up winning the Golden Boot for his consistent displays in the tournament.
The former Barcelona forward ended the 2022 FIFA World Cup with seven goals and three assists - his best return in the competition to date. The 35-year-old is yet to retire from international football.
But it seems unlikely that he will feature in the 2026 World Cup in North America.
Lionel Messi has already spoken highly of former Barcelona boss Frank Rijkaard
Frank Rijkaard was the manager who handed Lionel Messi his senior debut in Barcelona's 1-0 La Liga win against Espanyol in October 2004.
Since then, the Argentina icon has gone on to smash countless records and win every major trophy at club and international levels. Back in March 2016, Messi was asked who the most important manager was in his career.
He replied (h/t Eurosport):
"All that coaches I had at first left me things, but I think the most important thing in my career was Rijkaard. If he had not decided to get me in the first team to train and play perhaps I had never reached the first team. I always said [Rijkaard] was, for me, a very important person because he trusted me."
Since these comments, he has been managed by Ernesto Valverde, Quique Setien, Ronald Koeman, Sergi Barjuan, Mauricio Pochettino, and Christophe Galtier at club level.
At the international level, the list consists of Edgardo Bauza, Jorge Sampaoli, and Lionel Scaloni. While he may hold some or all of these in high regard, Rijkaard's role in his career is something he will surely never forget.