Angel Di Maria revealed that Lionel Messi told him the Copa America final would be his moment to shine as the duo helped Argentina seal a long-awaited triumph over Brazil on Saturday at the world-famous Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.
The Paris Saint-Germain winger scored the lone goal in the 22nd-minute of the final that ended his country's international trophy drought of almost 30 years and helped Messi get his hands on an elusive senior international trophy.
"It's going to be unforgettable," Goal.com quoted Di Maria after the game.
"(Messi) said 'thank you' and I said 'thank you' to him! He told me that it was my final, that it was the rematch for the finals that I couldn't play. It had to be today and today it was."
"Soccer is like this, comebacks are like this and it had to be today."
He added: "I am happy for my daughters, my wife, my parents, all the people who supported us, and for all the crazy people who came here. A World Cup is coming up soon and this is a huge boost."
Di Maria didn't play in the 2014 World Cup final due to an injury in the quarter-finals against Belgium. One year later, another muscle injury forced him out during the Copa America final against Chile. He was also unfit during the Copa America Centenario decider in 2016.
That is when Di Maria started seeing a psychiatrist. Argentina fans wanted him out of the squad, but he turned the tables on them on Saturday, despite the fact he started the tournament as a substitute.
Di Maria latched on to a ball over the top and capitalised on an error from Renan Lodi before lobbing Ederson Santana de Moraes to find the back of the net. Di Maria netted the goal to put Argentina ahead. He became the first Argentina player to score in a Copa America final since Cesar Delgado in 2004.
On Sunday in a post on social media, Di Maria paid tribute to his compatriot.
‘It was this friend. You deserve it more than anyone. You are the best in the world. You were before this final and you are now after being a champion,’ he wrote on Facebook, tagging Messi.
Argentina finished their 2021 Copa America campaign unbeaten. Lionel Scaloni's side finished top of their group with three wins and a draw against Chile. In the quarter-final, they beat Ecuador 3-0 to progress to the final four.
With this defeat, PSG and Brazilian star Neymar wait for the continental trophy continues as he was out with injury in the 2019 Copa America when Brazil won.