BUENOS AIRES: Argentine football legend Diego Maradona said compatriot Lionel Messi did not deserve to be named best player of the World Cup, arguing it should have gone to Colombia's James Rodriguez.
"I'd give Lio the sky, but when it's not deserved and it's just marketers who want to make him win something he didn't win, it's unfair," Maradona said Sunday after Argentina lost the World Cup final to Germany 1-0.
"Rodriguez was the best player of the World Cup," said Maradona on his TV programme "De Zurda", which is broadcast by Venezuelan network Telesur and retransmitted in several Latin American countries.
Argentina legend Diego Maradona (R) and striker Lionel Messi speak after their first round match against South Korea in 2010 World Cup at Soccer City stadium in Soweto, suburban Johannesburg. Pic/AFP
The 23-year-old Rodriguez was the revelation of the World Cup and the top scorer with six goals.
Messi dazzled in the group stage with four goals, but failed to score in his last four games, including the final.
Maradona said Messi himself did not seem to feel he deserved the trophy. "It looked like he didn't want to take it," he said.
But Maradona praised Argentina and said the match could have gone either way. "I'm sad about Mario Goetze's (game-winning) goal," he said. "But we can't forget that we took this World Cup step by step. If we had scored (Gonzalo) Higuain's (disallowed) goal we would be partying. Germany were not dominant."
Maradona, 53, was Messi's childhood idol and is his rival for the title of greatest-ever Argentine footballer. To many fans, the 27-year-old Barcelona striker still needs to add a World Cup win to his resume to match the greatness of Maradona, who led his team to the title in 1986.