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30 stats for Messi's 30th birthday

Barcelona
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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Diego Maradona: I thank God that Lionel Messi is an Argentine

Diego Maradona has told TyC Sports that Lionel Messi's lack of a World Cup title does not diminish his other achievements as a player.

Messi has been named the world's best player a record five times, while winning eight La Liga and four Champions League titles with Barcelona in his trophy-filled career.

But his failures at the international level have left him open to critics -- included Maradona at times -- despite leading Argentina to the final game of the 2014 World Cup and consecutive Copa America finals over the past three summers.

And Maradona, who carried his country to the 1986 World Cup title, insists his failures in the competition should not be held against his overall body of work.

Diego Maradona coached Lionel Messi at the 2010 World Cup.

"I am not going to tolerate that people say Messi is not the phenomenon that he is because he did not win a World Cup," Maradona, who coached Messi at the 2010 World Cup, told TyC Sports.

"Messi is a great player, regardless of whether he won the World Cup or not. At the age of 56, I can say that I have never seen anyone like Messi. I thank God that Messi is an Argentine. We have Messi, the Pope and me...

"Why would we burden him with claims that he is not a phenomenon if he does not win the World Cup? I won it because I got to play with guys like [Ricardo] Giusti, [Jorge] Burruchaga, [Nery] Pumpido, [Oscar] Ruggeri and many more..."

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