By Xinhua Sportswriters Xiao Shiyao, Gong Bing, Wu Jianfeng
FUZHOU, China, Dec. 25 (Xinhua) -- Former Argentina star midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron says he still believes Qatar 2022 could represent the last chance for compatriot Lionel Messi to win a World Cup trophy.
"The 2022 Qatar World Cup may be his last chance. As the last chance, he will have to see how to reach the goal," Veron told Xinhua during his recent China tour.
Being a brand ambassador for the inaugural FISU University World Cup, which was held in southeast China's Fujian province between November 21 and December 1, Veron unveiled the trophy for the tournament.
"For me it is a new experience, especially seeing boys and girls who are not going to have the possibility of playing at the FIFA World Cup. It is an important university championship," said the 44-year-old.
Veron now serves as the chairman of Argentina's Estudiantes de La Plata football club. He successfully persuaded compatriot Javier Mascherano to join the home team after serving out his contract with Chinese Super League side Hebei China Fortune. "We are good friends. Javier wants to take care of his family," explained Veron.
Veron revealed that he plans to cooperate with China's Fujian Chaoyue (Broncos) for youth soccer training programs in the world's most populous country.
"When I was thinking about what I would be after I retired from the beautiful game. I was not attracted to being a coach. What I liked was the fact that I could develop a project in this case, in my club," said the two-time South American Footballer of the year.
"The development of football in China is still at an early stage. I believe that a project is needed. The youth training takes time, that's essential. You need to train and play lots of games. If you work hard, you can improve in football.
"Taking the [Chinese] kids to Argentina, so they can have training and participate in the competitions there," he added.
During his glorious career as a footballer, Veron not only impressed at several European powerhouses including Inter Milan and Manchester United, but also was known for the longevity on the pitch as he officially retired at the age of 42.
"I cherish all the experiences in these clubs, which are all important memories in my life," Veron noted, saying that "personal care, will and desire to always want more" is the secret for him to play in the forties.
The former Argentina international, who had 73 caps for the country, also voiced support for former teammate Mauricio Pochettino, who was replaced by Jose Mourinho as manager of Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur last month.
"Football, in a way, is ungrateful. For me, Mauricio did a great job at Tottenham, but many times they demand results. Now it's up to Jose Mourinho, another great coach. Hope he has more luck," he said.