Weeks before making his debut in Major League Soccer for Inter Miami, Lionel Messi put on a show in his hometown of Rosario during former teammate Maxi Rodriguez's testimonial match. Coincidentally, Messi was also celebrating his 36th Birthday and received a huge ovation from the crowd at the iconic Estadio Marcelo Bielsa stadium as he scored a stunning first-half hat trick with some magical goals.
Maxi Rodriguez, ex-Liverpool and Atlético de Madrid winger announced his retirement in 2021 as he completed his third stint in his boyhood club - Newell’s Old Boys. Celebrating his great career, many current and former Argentine stars like Messi, Angel Di Maria, and Sergio Aguero participated in an incredible Newell’s Old Boys vs Argentina match-up.
Starting off the proceedings, Lionel Messi slotted in a worldie as Argentina received a free-kick from outside the box. Here the 2022 World Cup winner stepped up and smashed the ball into the top-right corner. He then doubled the goal tally before completing another incredible hat trick with a turning finish off Leandro Paredes's looping assist.
Watch the video here:
The Argentine team also included the current Albiceleste coach Luis Scaloni, who also showed off skills as put in a near-perfect sliding tackle and received a big ovation from the crowd. With all these festivities, this exhibition match ended 4-2 in Argentina’s favour.
After the match, Lionel Messi said, “As I said at the time: it was our turn to be world champions, but behind us were millions of impressive players who did many great things with the National Team, beyond the fact that they did not raise a cup.”
He also addressed his retirement plan and added, “Although what we did is something special (winning the World Cup) and unique, the dream of every footballer... you're thinking about what's to come, more than what you did. When it's my turn to leave football, I'm going to remember and enjoy everything I've achieved much more.”