Just 22 minutes into the game, Angel Di Maria latched on to a looping through-ball from Rodrigo De Paul, brought it down with his heel and lobbed it above an onrushing Ederson to open the scoring for Argentina in the Copa America final against Brazil.

While Lionel Messi's hunt for an international trophy had garnered all the headlines, for Di Maria, too, Sunday's final was an incredible opportunity.  

And rising to the occasion, the Argentine winger, like he always does, scored the opening goal for La Albiceleste, after being handed a rare start, against their age-old rivals.

Eventually, the goal would end up sealing the Copa America title for Argentina, providing some solace to the Paris Saint-Germain player given how his near-perfect run in the 2014 World Cup came to a harrowing end. 

Di Maria was ever-present in the Albiceleste's campaign in Brazil until he suffered a muscle injury in the first half of the quarter-final match against Belgium.

Following the injury, he was forced to miss the semi-final victory over the Netherlands and ended up as an unused substitute in his side's 1-0 extra-time loss to Germany in the grand finale.

However, according to Di Maria, although he was determined to make the squad for the finals, he was forced not.

His then-club Real Madrid sent a letter to the Argentine administration asking them not to play Di Maria in the match against Germany as they wanted the winger to avoid aggravating his injury because they wanted to sell him in the summer.

"The only three who know the truth are doctor Daniel Martinez, [coach] Alejandro Sabella and me," Di Maria said in an interview with Telefe in June 2020.

"I had a tear in the game against Belgium, I was at about 90 per cent. The leg wasn't totally right, but I wanted to play and I didn't care at all if I never played football again.

"It was one of the things I was told could happen, but for me, it was the World Cup final, it was my final."

But then the Real Madrid letter arrived and Di Maria narrated how he tore it up without even taking a look at it. 

"I was going to have an injection. I wanted to try. But after the meeting, he decided to play Enzo Perez in my place." Germany went on to win the game and become the world champions. But to this day many believe, if the tricky Argentine forward started that night, the results could have been different.

For Di Maria, as his goal ends Argentina's 28-year-old trophy drought and quenches his own thirst for international silverware, there is nothing greater to crown the country's eternal servant, who is more than often overlooked.