Diego Maradona has given his blessing to Lionel Messi "overcoming" his legacy, saying he would "give him the red carpet" if he emulates his 1986 achievement of driving Argentina to a World Cup win.
There had been some conjecture about Argentina legend Maradona's opinion on the matter after he left his seat in Belo Horizonte's Mineirao stadium moments before Messi scored the stoppage-time winner in the second group game against Iran.
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But he said he felt Messi, 27, would "define" Sunday's final against Germany despite telling TV programme "De Zurda" he feared the Barcelona man could be suffering from tiredness.
"If on Sunday Messi has to overcome Maradona to lift the cup, I'll give him the red carpet," Maradona said. "He will be the player who will define the game.
"The only fear I have is that he is tired -- but in the end you cannot be tired. I think he will understand. If you miss a shot on Sunday, you only resemble the best in the world."
Messi's father Jorge echoed Maradona's concerns about tiredness, saying his son -- who struggled to make an impression as his side beat Netherlands on penalties in the semifinal -- was exhausted.
"Leo said it looked like his legs weighed 100 kilos. He was very tired," he told Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo.