Argentina football captain Lionel Messi was praised immensely for his leadership skills after he chose to run to goalkeeper Emiliano ‘Dibu’ Martinez instead of Lautaro Martinez, even though the latter was the one who sealed his side’s victory against the Netherlands in the quarterfinals of FIFA World Cup 2022 on Friday.

Argentina and the Dutch were drawn 2-2 before the end of stoppage time and had to let the penalty shootout decide their fate ahead. Dibu Martinez showed a lot of composure and steel nerves as he calmly saved two Dutch penalties at the very beginning of the shootout. Argentina’s Lautaro Martinez led his team to victory by scoring the decisive spot-kick. 

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When Lautaro was preparing to take the shot, a camera recording by a fan from the stands showed Dibu kneeling on the grass near the sidelines. As soon as Lautaro’s ball hit the net, he collapsed face-first onto the grass, with his limbs stretched out. The feeling of relief, happiness, and clear exhaustion from the game was clear in his demeanor.

While the rest of Argentina team ran unanimously toward Lautaro, who had sat down on the ground to celebrate his victory, the Argentine skipper took a detour and ran toward the only soldier in red, Dibu, who was still lying down, not having noticed Messi running toward him. 

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Only after ensuring that Dibu was feeling okay did he take a lap of victory and started celebrating with the fans and the rest of his team members. The fact that Messi made sure that Dibu felt included in the celebrations has won hearts on social media.

“Everyone rushed towards Lautaro but Messi knew who the hero was. He went straight to Emiliano Martinez,” one fan wrote, while another said, “Everybody runs to Lautaro, who scored the winning penalty. Only Messi goes directly to Dibu Martinez, who saved two pens and is the actual hero of the shootout. True leadership.”

One more stated, “After the penalty shoot-out, only Lionel Messi ran over to Emi Martinez. The rest of the team ran over to the winning penalty taker Lautaro Martínez. Real recognizing real there.”

Argentina now looks to play Croatia for a place in the final.