Going against with Messi has made my confidence shine, says Baccus | Football

Keanu Baccus returns to St Mirren after reaching the World Cup last 16 with Australia and facing Argentina superstar Lionel Messi (Picture: SNS)

St Mirren midfielder Keanu Baccus insists going head to head with Lionel Messi has given him the confidence to take his career to a new level.

The Australian star has just returned to Buddies training on the back of making his first Socceroos start against Messi’s Argentina in the World Cup last 16.

He only made his Aussie debut in September but he played in all four matches in Qatar, coming up against Messi and France’s Kylian Mbappe.

Although the Aussies lost both games, Baccus learned from the world’s top players. He said: ‘It’s surreal how good Messi actually is.

‘Not many people can take the ball anywhere on the field and back themselves to go at people.

‘I was trying to look over my shoulder and see what he was doing but it’s hard in a game. He looks fake on the field – a bit like a wax statue. It was amazing to play against him.’

Keanu Baccus tackles Lionel Messi during the World Cup match between Argentina and Australia (Picture: Shutterstock)

Australia assistant coach Rene Meulensteen this week tipped Baccus to win a move to one of Scotland’s or England’s biggest clubs and he has been linked with Celtic and Rangers.

But the humble Saints man says he was not overawed in Qatar. He said: ‘It was an amazing experience. Who would’ve thought a few months ago I’d be there.

‘I went there with no expectations, I just wanted to go there and continue doing what I have been doing with St Mirren.

‘The last few months in Scotland have made me ready for moments like that.
‘Big games against Rangers and Celtic really helped get me ready.

‘I know there are a lot of aspects I need to improve on to get to that level. They are very sharp mentally and how they act – they minimise mistakes by being smart.

‘What I learned most is that we are not that far off as players, being from Oz or playing in the Scottish league.’

Australians throw pints and flares in celebration of historic World Cup win

MORE : Aussie fans want to leave Qatar early after finding rooms ‘flooded with sewage’

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