After Argentina’s victory at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, a promise made by soccer superstar Lionel Messi to the Virgin Mary has resurfaced. Will he fulfill it?

Lionel Messi, 35, played his fifth World Cup wearing Argentina’s jersey and the team became world champion by beating France on Sunday.

Considered one of the best players in the world, Messi has won 40 titles, 34 with Futbol Club Barcelona (FC) in Spain, two with Paris Saint Germain (PSG) in France, and four with the Argentine National Team. In his career, according to his own words, “this was missing” — to be world champion as a member of his country’s team.

In 2014, the team of which he is captain reached the final in the World Cup in Brazil, where they lost to Germany. In Russia in 2018, Argentina was left out of the competition in the Round of 16.

It was precisely at that World Cup that he made a special promise to the Virgin.

In an interview in Moscow with the Argentine journalist Martín Arévalo, Messi was challenged by the reporter to walk “to Luján or to San Nicolás,” two of the most important shrines in Argentina, if the team won the World Cup.

Lujan, Argentina, is the site of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lujan, the patroness of the country, which every year attracts millions of pilgrims.

In San Nicolás — a city near Rosario, Messi’s birthplace — is the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of San Nicolás, which has a history of Marian apparitions that began in 1983 with messages from the Virgin to Gladys Quiroga de Motta.

The apparitions were approved by the Catholic Church on May 22, 2016, through a decree signed by the then bishop of San Nicolás, Héctor Cardelli.

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In the 2018 Moscow interview, Messi promised that he would walk from his home in the town of Arroyo Seco to the Basilica of San Nicolás, a distance of about 24 miles, and shook hands with the journalist as a sign of commitment.

During his career, Messi has shown devotion to God and to be a believer. After winning the World Cup, his statements to the press did not omit the role that he attributes to the Lord in the victory: “I knew that God was going to grant this gift to me, I had a presentiment that it was going to be this,” he told the TyC Sports television channel.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.