In a sport that produces superstars every year, what does it take to get immortalised as one of the greats for posterity? The answer could be very simple and yet quite complicated. In today’s day and age, when every move and tackle made, every pass completed and every goal scored makes it to the handsets of millions of football fans within seconds, it sure could be easy to become popular in the world’s most popular sport. Football is a passion for millions across the globe and players are adored and loathed for their performances in club football every week. Yet, it is their performance for the national team, especially in the FIFA World Cup, that gets them a ticket to the Hall Of Fame.
Over the years, there have been several stars who have produced greatness on the greens, from Alfredo de Stefano to Johan Cryuff, Ferenc Puskas to Lev Yashin, Zico to Michel Platini, there are a plethora of names that one can recount. But when it comes to the list of the greatest of them all, they are all dwarfed by two names, Brazil’s Pele and Argentina’s Diego Maradona. This is because apart from the exemplary skills and achievements that the two could boast of, leading their respective countries to the World Cup title ensured that their names have been written in the annals of footballing history in golden letters.
On 18th December 2022, another name joined that rare and elite list of all. Lionel Messi. Not that his silken dribbling skills, innumerable goals at club and international level, were not enough to earn him a legendary status, but a World Cup win was just the stamp that he needed to become an all-time great.
Messi and his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo have bedazzled football loving masses for close to two decades now and whenever the ‘GOAT’ debate was raised for either, the only contention was the lack of a global trophy.
Ronaldo led Portugal to the 2016 Euro, while Messi led Argentina to the 2021 Copa America, but those were continental titles.
The need of the hour at Qatar for these two greats, who will perhaps never be seen at the World Cup stage again, was to win the big trophy and eventually it was an inspired Argentinian team that delivered for Messi.
The magician himself was at the forefront, scoring 7 times in the tournament, including two strikes in the see-saw final encounter against defending champions France.
He shattered several records en route to the trophy that Argentina has been pining for 36 long years since the great El Diego had done it for them. Having emulated his idol at last, Messi is truely now Argentina’s “Messi-ah”.
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