Lionel Messi’s mother, Celia Cuccittini has rushed to the defence of her son following criticism that the Barcelona star isn’t fully committed when playing for his country.
Argentina’s World Cup got off to a poor start with Messi missing a penalty in a 1-1 draw to minnows Iceland, one day after rival Cristiano Ronaldo had netted a stunning hat-trick against Spain.
It was the latest in a series of low points with the national side for Messi, who suffered defeat in three major finals between 2014 and 2016, leading him to briefly retire from international duty.
And his mother, Celia Cuccittini, has come out to stress just how much playing for Argentina means to the 30-year-old.
“His aim is to bring the Cup home, to win the World Cup,” Cuccittini said in an appearance on El Trece television show ‘Diario de Mariana.’ ‘It’s one of his biggest desires. We see him suffer and cry at times.
“He is the first who wants to bring the Cup with him. He more than anyone would give everything for this to be his World Cup.”
“We suffer from all the criticism that Leo receives,’ Cuccittini continued. “When people say that he doesn’t feel it or that he plays for the national team out of obligation, that hurts as a mother and as a family.
“Luckily, people love him a lot and they transmit that to him and he values this a lot. As a mother, I do, too.”
Cuccittini insists her son is in a much better state of mind than he was back at the Copa America in 2016.
“I see him much more relaxed, calmer and with more confidence. I wished him a lot of luck. I told him to enjoy himself, to live in the moment and be happy.
“I told him to do what he knows, to play just as if he was playing when he started out with Grandoli. I see him with expectations… all the family here is supporting him.”