Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Tuesday that his country's young footballers should "take an example" from Argentina's Lionel Messi, who won his eighth Ballon d'Or on Monday. “Messi should serve as an example to Brazilian players. He is 36 years old, he was a world champion and he won the Ballon d’Or playing at an extraordinary level,” declared the head of state during his weekly show “Conversation with the President”, broadcast on social networks. Some must have had ringing ears, notably a 31-year-old boy who plays for Al-Hilal.
Lula, who has continued to criticize the level of Brazilian football in recent months, did not hesitate to praise the star of Argentina's historic rivals, three weeks before the clash against the Seleçao, on November 21, at Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, as part of qualifying for the 2026 World Cup. The last Brazilian to win the Ballon d'Or was Kaka, in 2007. "If you want to win the Ballon d'Or, you have to make an effort , be professional (...) and not spend your nights partying,” he said.
Lula, on the other hand, cited as an example the Brazilian gymnast Rebeca Andrade, Olympic champion and reigning world champion in vault, who won the gold medal on the same apparatus at the Pan American Games in Santiago last week. She also reached the top of the podium on the balance beam. “When I see her winning gold medals, I am happy because I know (...) she won them by training hard, not by partying,” he concluded.