MONTE CARLO – Italian coach Fabio Capello showered Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi on Monday with praise and underscored the notion that obtaining achievements such as the FIFA World Cup title requires a team effort, not just an individual one.
Messi, who has won it all with his club, has always failed to earn a title with Argentina’s national team, despite reaching the 2014 World Cup final – which it lost to Germany – and three finals of the Copa America, losing to Brazil in 2007 and Chile in 2015 and 2016.
Capello, however, said Messi was not the one to blame for these failures, as the 31-year-old – despite being a great player – was unable to win titles by himself.
“Messi’s not a player. He’s a genius. But a player on his own cannot win everything. Soccer is a team sport. Messi cannot win alone although he’s done everything possible,” he explained.
The former Real Madrid, Milan, England and Russia coach made these remarks during a conversation with several media outlets in Monte Carlo, ahead of the 2019 Laureus World Sports Awards ceremony set to be held later on Monday.
The Laureus Awards honor the best sporting achievements of 2018 in eight individual and team categories.
Asked about the UEFA Champions League last-16 tie pitting Atletico Madrid against Juventus on Wednesday, Capello praised both the Spanish team’s coach Diego Simeone and his counterpart in the Serie A side, Massimiliano Allegri.
Capello said that he admired intelligent coaches such as Simeone and Allegri, as both were flexible enough to change their approach in light of the expected playing plan of the opponent, which enabled them to take advantage of their rivals’ weaknesses.
He also hailed the fast adaptation of Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo to the playing style of seven-time Serie A defending champion Juventus.
Capello said that Ronaldo clearly took care of his body, which makes him an example for his teammates to follow.
Since joining Juventus in the summer transfer window, Ronaldo has scored a total of 21 goals and assisted on 12 goals in 32 matches played across all competitions.
The Italian coach also congratulated Atletico Madrid for being able to keep France forward Antoine Griezmann within the club, as the player, who was a key part of France’s success in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, turned down an offer to join Barcelona last summer.
British singer and songwriter Jorja Smith was scheduled to perform during the Laureus Awards ceremony, which will be hosted by United States actor James Marsden.
Several famed sportsmen are set to attend the event, including Luis Figo, Arsene Wenger, Fabio Capello, Didier Deschamps, Cafu, Alessandro Del Piero, Carles Puyol, Mikael Silvestre, Patrick Vieira, Fredi Bobic, Kosovare Asllani and Alex Scott.