NEVER have I felt so emotional watching a game of football.
I was watching it with my Arsenal coaching staff and we were all up and down like yo-yos.
I’m not going quite as far as to say I was crying when that final whistle went — but I just might have done if Messi had lost.
And to make the occasion absolutely perfect, there was my old Gunners pal Emi Martinez standing alongside him as a world champion, and after having performed so magnificently.
Honestly, it doesn’t get any better — unless, of course, England had won.
I’ve said during this World Cup that Messi is the greatest player there’s ever been, and for any of the doubters, I trust this now ends the debate.
Yes, Cristiano Ronaldo has been a phenomenal player but, I repeat, Messi is from another planet.
He’s just head and shoulders above anyone else in the game.
He scored twice and played a magical part in Angel Di Maria’s goal, in a classic final with the pressure of his country and almost the whole world on his shoulders. Wow.
I’m telling you, we will never see another player like Messi — never.
I loved playing football, I love coaching it and I love watching it — and he is one of the reasons why this game is the greatest on Earth.
How sick must Kylian Mbappe be to score a hat-trick and lose?
It didn’t look like the Golden Boot was much consolation as he had to pose for pictures alongside Emi and Messi.
But to watch Emi do what he’s done has been amazing.
To have seen him as a 17-year-old kid at Arsenal, who went out on loan to the likes of Oxford, Rotherham and Sheffield Wednesday, to now be a World Cup winner. I’m so happy for him.
He made one of the best and most important saves ever in a World Cup final — that stop with his boot from Randal Kolo Muani right at the end of extra-time to get them to penalties.
Seriously, that save has helped Messi to the prize we all so wanted for him and that he wanted more than anything.
Then Emi saves Kingsley Coman’s shootout kick — and messes with Aurelien Tchouameni’s head for him to miss.
He has an immense presence in goal. The target just gets smaller and smaller when he’s in it and I actually thought he would save one of Mbappe’s penalties before the shootout. He certainly came very close to it.
For him to win the Golden Glove as the best keeper — and the World Cup itself — is off the scale.
It just shows why you should never give up in life.
He couldn’t get what he wanted, to be the first-team keeper at Arsenal, but now he’s on top of the world.
Goodness knows what it must have been like in that stadium.
Can you ever remember a final like that one?
We have a youth cup game against Millwall today and I want my kids to learn from it — to go on that pitch and leave everything out there the way these two teams did.
Yes, France started slowly but we ended up with an epic and it was an object lesson in total commitment.
Football is a wonderful game — and sometimes tactics take a back seat.
You can talk all you like about systems but there was a joy in the chaos out there. I doubt very much we will see another game like it ever again.
I wrote before this final about how proud I was to have played against Messi — and to have his shirt on my son Archie’s wall.
Well, that shirt is certainly even more special now!
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