Argentina’s fans celebrate in the streets after World Cup victory

‘This team made people fall in love with them for the first time in decades,’ an Argentinian fan said.

Celebrations have gripped Argentina where tens of thousands of fans flooded the streets of Buenos Aires after the Argentinian team’s World Cup win – their first since 1986.

Drone footage on Sunday showed thousands of Argentinians gathered at the city’s iconic obelisk and outside the home of the late footballing legend Diego Maradona.

Millions of Argentines had cried, shouted and hugged as they followed the final match against France earlier – a roller coaster of emotions.

“I feel an immense happiness in my heart because this is the first World Cup I truly enjoy,” Hector Quinteros, a 34-year-old security guard, said, his eyes welling up with tears.

“This always happens. They always make us suffer.”

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Final Qatar 2022 - Fans in Buenos Aires - Buenos Aires, Argentina - December 18, 2022 Argentina fans celebrate winning the World Cup at the Obelisk with an image of Lionel Messi REUTERS/Mariana Nedelcu
Argentina fans celebrate winning the World Cup at the Obelisco de Buenos Aires, which had an image of Lionel Messi projected on it [Mariana Nedelcu/Reuters]

France had reduced many Argentinian fans to a bundle of nerves at multiple points throughout the game.

At the end of the first half, many were gearing up to celebrate as Argentina led France 2-0 and clearly dominated the match.

But that early happiness turned to anxiety as France caught up, with Kylian Mbappe scoring three times to erase the comfortable lead that Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria had given La Albiceleste. The final score after extra time ultimately saw both teams tied at 3-3.

In the end, Argentina managed to pull out a 4-2 victory on penalties, a nail-biting affair that will surely be cemented in history as one of the most thrilling finals on record.

“I can’t believe it! It was difficult, but we did it, thanks to Messi,” Santiago, 13, who celebrated the win with his family in Buenos Aires, told Reuters.

The World Cup victory comes to a nation battered by an economic crisis and skyrocketing inflation, pushing many to the brink financially and much of the population into poverty.

“It was an incredible game, at times anguishing,” said 46-year-old Diego Aburgeily, who celebrated the win in the Buenos Aires suburbs.

“This team made people fall in love with them for the first time in decades.”

The last time Argentina made a World Cup finals appearance was in a losing effort to Germany in 2014.

When Argentina’s Gonzalo Montiel buried their fourth – and winning – penalty in the back of the French net, fans screamed, threw their hands in the air and hugged.

“It is an immense joy after so much tension,” lawyer Nicolas Piry, 46, said.

For some, Messi’s World Cup victory will put to rest one of the most hotly contested debates in football – who’s better: Messi or Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo?

Ronaldo, for all his accolades, has never won a World Cup – and he exited the tournament in Qatar after his team suffered a devastating semifinal loss to Morocco.

Messi may not play in the 2026 World Cup, but the 35-year-old said he also won’t immediately retire from the Argentinian national team.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies