Argentina were on the verge of losing out on a FIFA World Cup finals place for the first time after 1970. With a superstar like Lionel Messi in the current football team line-up, however, Argentina couldn't have afforded to embarrass themselves.
The FC Barcelona magician, who is also the captain of the national team, took the onus upon himself to pull Argentina out from the jaws of destruction. Messi scored a hat-trick against Ecuador in their last game of the South American World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday to take La Albiceleste to the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia.
Argentina joined Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay to achieve direct qualification to the football world cup next year.
The Barcelona star took to the mic during the post-match press conference and thanked God and the supporters for inspiring and motivating them to getting the job done.
Full quotes in English:
Argentina deserved to qualify
"This group of players deserved to be in the FIFA World Cup 2018 and that's what we were determined to achieve. We started losing and things got harder than it was. We gave everything we could and luckily, it all went well."
Playing against Ecuador was not easy
"There was always the fear of coming to play here (Ecuador). To start losing so fast (conceding a goal early on) was hard. Luckily we were able to turn around quickly and then get ahead."
Time to get united more than ever
"I think it's important that we unite. We all want to enjoy and do well in the World Cup finals as well. If we all goes hand in hand, we are on the right track."
Time to change regrets to success
"It was unfair what happened to us in the World Cup and in the two [Copa] America Cups. With the team we had, we could have won all three finals. We suffered a lot to enter this World Cup. Now we must be calm, enjoy this win and prepare for what lies ahead."
Argentina couldn't afford to NOT qualify
"It would have been crazy if Argentina were not in the World Cup. The group did not deserve that for everything that we have been fighting for. Today was an important day for everyone."
United we stand
"To all my colleagues and teammates, this is a victory for all of us. We know what we suffered together to qualify for the World Cup. Many of the players did not play today (against Ecuador), but they have been a very important part of the team throughout the campaign."
Thanks to God and the supporters like always
"Thanks to God that we fulfilled the objective. I also want to thank the fans for their continuous support, especially in these last two matches. We need the support every time. As for me, I tried to give my best and luckily we succeeded."
(Original quotes appeared in Spanish on Argentine Football Association (AFA) website)