One of the players to face Lionel Messi countless times is former Atletico de Madrid defender Diego Godin as the two players shared many clashes in Spain and South American international fixtures.
Godin spoke with Argentine media outlet Ole, where he discussed having faced Messi on various occasions and what it was like to go up against the 35-year-old nearly every season, with the two being in La Liga and CONMEBOL.
“I am the second player who faced Messi the most in his career; it is a statistic that they told me recently,” Godin said. “He is a player who, like Maradona or Pelé at the time, marked an era. He is the best in the world and also very respectful. You hit him and he doesn’t b—h, unless you get him in a bad mood.
“It’s difficult to mark him because, although we all prepare to defend against the best in the world, he manages to continue scoring 50 goals per season. There you see the quality of the player: Everyone studies him every weekend, but his quality is enough to solve.”
Despite the rivalry, there’s plenty of respect from Godin, who was happy to see Messi lift the 2022 FIFA World Cup trophy as it had long eluded the veteran throughout his career. The Argentine had many other current and past players rooting for him to climb the mountain top.
“Seeing him win made me happy because, in Uruguay, people empathized a lot with this team,” Godin said. “It is obvious that we are rivals and we always want to beat Argentina, but this team generated something different. For the coach, of whom they speak wonders to me, for how they declared and, precisely, for seeing Messi being a man on the field, playing the World Cup of his life and with the team on his shoulder.
“The matches were very exciting, suffered, and we like that better at the Río de la Plata. In Uruguay, everyone wanted Argentina to win because of Messi.”
Godin appears to be wrapping up his football career in South America and the question will soon apply to Messi and where he wants to have his final playing days.
Reports of PSG wanting to extend are ongoing and there are rumors regarding Inter Miami, so it will be interesting to see where Messi ends up playing next season, with his contract expiring in June.