Lionel Messi gets World Cup pep talk from Oprah Winfrey in Argentina
Lionel Messi is aware there are many people around the world who want to see him finally lift a World Cup with Argentina this summer, but he probably didn't realise Oprah Winfrey was among them.
Messi, 30, has been offered some advice from an unlikely source in Winfrey, the American TV and movie star.
"Messi, this message is for you, and this is the thing, you already know this in advance: You go deep, you go deep, and you find the strength inside yourself," Winfrey, one of the most influential women in America, told Pronto when asked if she could help inspire the forward. "And Messi: Be a warrior."
Winfrey was speaking at a promotional event for her new film, "A Wrinkle in Time," in which she stars alongside Reese Witherspoon, who revealed that Messi is a big hit in her household.
"Messi is my son's favourite player," Witherspoon said. "He has all his jerseys and everything."
Messi has won everything there is to be won in club football with Barcelona. However, his critics say he must lead his country to international honours if he wants to be considered as one of the game's all-time greats.
He's come agonisingly close in the last few years, losing a World Cup final against Germany in 2014 before being defeated in back-to-back Copa America finals against Chile in 2015 and 2016.
Barca are still fighting on three fronts this season but Messi has admitted that he can't help but begin to think about this year's World Cup, which he suggested could be his last with the Albiceleste.
"Everywhere in the world they are waiting for Argentina to be champions and for that to happen to me," Messi told La Conrisa TV this week. "Nowadays I try to leave to one side everything that is said and that surrounds football, but it's complicated because it's a World Cup and the focus is there.
"There's not long to go and everything happens quickly. I'm lucky to play for things that are very important at Barcelona that make me focus on that and not think too far ahead. But I've seen around the world just how much people want it to be a great World Cup for me and for Argentina.
"Many people desire for me to be champion and that is incredible. I try to live day to day and not think about June but it's incredible how people all over the world want for Argentina to be champion and for me to get it."
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.