In the build-up to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, FC Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has revealed why he ultimately turned down the opportunity to represent Spain.
The 30-year-old, who has represented Argentina 123 times in his career so far, was eligible to play for La Furia Roja back when he was just 16 years of age, then playing in the La Masia academy.
Messi has now revealed he was first approached to play for Spain when he was on tour in Finland with the Blaugrana, but already he had his heart set on playing for his country of birth.
"If I played for Spain? A friend of mine told me that I'd now be a world champion if I'd played for Spain, but it wouldn't have been the same," Messi told Pasión por el Futbol.
"Being a champion with Argentina would be something unique. I was 16 years old and, half in jest and half serious, the coach of the U17s put it to me.
"It happened in Finland, and Cesc (Fabregas) was my teammate at the time. That's where it all stems from, but at no time did the thought or any doubts cross my mind."
Messi also touched on the Albicelste's chances at this year's World Cup, and stated that that he was happy with the squad that was selected.
"We have a tough draw. Iceland showed they could compete with anyone at the last Euros, Croatia have a great midfield, like Spain but a level below, and we always struggle against Nigeria," he added.
"I have a lot of faith in this group, though. We're working well, we have players with ability and experience, but we have to go slowly. We don't want to send the message, 'We're going to win the World Cup because we're the best...' because the reality is we aren't.
"There are several favourites at the moment. Brazil is one. Spain, Germany, they're some of the best teams right now."
Messi has scored 61 goals for his national team so far, with five of those having come in World Cups.
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