Messi's statue will stand in the CONMEBOL museum in Paraguay next to the two football icons.

Lionel Messi has been honoured with a statue by the South America football federation CONMEBOL after leading Argentina to success in the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The Albiceleste No.10 featured in an unveiling ceremony in his hometown, and will now have the life-size sculpture of himself standing next to that of the legendary Pele and Diego Maradona in the headquarters of the federation in Paraguay.

In December, Messi completed his trophy cabinet by winning the World Cup with Argentina in Qatar, putting in a memorable performance against France in the final to the competition as the best player. Since then, the 35-year-old forward has been scooping awards and honours from all directions. Having clinched the The Best 2022 FIFA Men's Player of the Year award back in February, the former Barcelona superstar has now had his national team training base being named after him.

At the unveiling ceremony inside the CONMEBOL headquarters in Luque, Paraguay, Messi was seen holding a replica of the World Cup trophy on Monday, just before the Copa Libertadores draw. In an emotional speech, the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner revealed that he had never imagined he would be in such a position. "I had never dreamed or thought about this," he said.

"My dream was to enjoy what I liked when I was little, to be a professional soccer player, to do what I always loved in this life.

"I had a very long road, many decisions and defeats, but I always looked ahead and wanted to go for a triumph, for a victory.

"I think that is the most important thing, to fight for your dreams, that everything is possible and to enjoy the game, which is the most beautiful thing there is."

As part of the same event, the Argentine national team and coach Lionel Scaloni were presented with miniature trophies of the World Cup and the Copa América, which they had won in 2021.