Lionel Messi has revealed why he decided to celebrate in front of Louis van Gaal during Argentina's 2022 FIFA World Cup quarter-final against the Netherlands.
The 35-year-old caused a stir at the World Cup in Qatar after he aimed a controversial celebration at Van Gaal when he scored his country’s second goal in their last eight encounter against the Dutch.
After converting his penalty-kick, Messi stood near the halfway line with his hands cupped behind his ears while facing Van Gaal, actions many around the world deemed disrespectful.
It later emerged that the Paris Saint-Germain forward and his teammates felt provoked by comments the 71-year-old had made in the build-up to the quarter-final clash, such as suggesting stopping Messi would be relatively straightforward.
The Albiceleste captain responded by playing a hand in both of his country's goals, before the match eventually went to extra-time and then a penalty shootout following a second-half brace from new Manchester United striker Wout Weghorst.
Messi has since admitted some regret in his actions, saying his international colleagues had informed him of Van Gaal's remarks ahead of the knockout game.
"It came out from me naturally. Some teammates had told me what Van Gaal said before the game," he told Andy Kusnetzoff on Perros de la Calle.
"I don't like to leave that image, but it came out like that, there was a lot of nervousness."
Messi also had a post-match run-in with Weghorst after a number of on-field clashes with the towering Dutch striker.
"I'm not happy with what I did. I'm not happy that I said 'walk on,' and so on," he added.
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"But in the heat of the moment, when a lot of pressure is added, everything happens quickly. You react the way you react."
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