ARGENTINA

USA 1994 was the final straw for the mercurial Diego Armando Maradona. The image of his maniacal full-face goal celebration into a camera led to a charge of doping and retirement from International football

His downfall had been spectacular, painful and ugly, the sumptuous talents that arguably made him the world's greatest footballer ever came with a price tag on which he had failed to make the payments

Lionel Andrés "Leo" Messi is rightly considered the best football player of his generation and is the first football player in history to win four Fifa World player of the year awards, which he has won consecutively.
He made his international debut in 2005 aged 18 and the following year he became the youngest Argentine to play in the FIFA World Cup. In 2008, in Beijing, he won his first international honour, an Olympic gold medal, with the Argentina Olympic football team
He has been captain of his country since 2010

His playing style and ability have drawn comparisons to Diego Maradona, who himself declared Messi his "successor".
Like Maradona he has a lower centre of gravity than most players, allowing him to be more agile and change direction more quickly, helping him to evade tackles. His short, strong legs allow him to excel in short bursts of acceleration and his quick feet allow him to keep control of the ball when dribbling at speed
Pep Guardiola, once stated: “Messi is the only player that runs faster with the ball than he does without it.”

Messi's brilliance is backed up by a blizzard of compelling statistics, not least his recent feat of breaking German striker Gerd Muller's 40-year-old record by ending the calendar year with 91 goals for club and country. The latest coronation will also give fresh impetus to a debate that now rages with more intensity around Messi. Namely - is he the greatest to have played the game?

Hosts Argentina captured their first world title as Holland, minus Cruyff, suffered final heartache for the second tournament running. Mario Kempes sealed Argentina's triumph, scoring twice against the Dutch in the confetti-strewn cauldron of the Estadio Monumental to earn himself additional acclaim as top scorer

Argentina became the fifth team (after Uruguay, Italy, England and West Germany), to be both hosts and world champions

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