- Lionel Messi has said football owes him the 2018 World Cup trophy
- The attacker lost three straight finals with Argentina between 2014 and 2016
- Argentina face Croatia, Iceland and Nigeria in Group D at the World Cup
Lionel Messi says he hopes football "ends up paying" the debt the sport owes him by letting him win the 2018 World Cup.
La Pulga lost three straight finals (one World Cup final and two Copa America finals) with Argentina in a three-year span.
Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli said after Messi's hat trick at Ecuador in the 3-1 win in their final qualifier on October 10 that football "owes Messi a World Cup."
Asked about Sampaoli's remarks, Messi told FIFA: "Yes, I did hear it, and he said it to me too. I hope football does end up paying me!"
Messi also says the 2014 World Cup final defeat to Germany is still an open wound.
"It's going to be there forever," he said. "I don't know if they're ever going to heal. We're just going to have to live with it. The World Cup is a very happy memory and a bitter one too because of how it ended, how it all worked out. But it's always going to be there."
Messi is, however, glad to get another chance to win that title.
"It was very important because missing out on the World Cup would have been a huge blow, firstly for the squad as a whole and then for me on a personal level," he said.
"I don't know how I would have taken it. The same goes for the people of Argentina. Failing to make Russia would have been an all-time low for the country."
Argentina will take on Croatia, Iceland and Nigeria in Group D at the World Cup.
How Super Eagles qualified for the Russia 2018 World Cup on NAIJ.com TV;