Messi the marvellous. The greatest player of his generation.

Messi the marvellous. The greatest player of his generation.

messi celebrates wonder goal v bayernWhen a goal gets me out of my seat, it’s got to be a good one. The second goal scored by Lionel Messi against Bayern Munich wasn’t simply good. It was genius. Poetry in motion.

If there is anyone out there who still disputes he’s the greatest player of his generation, then you are either deluded or in denial.

I saw Piers Morgan on Twitter saying he’d rather have Ronaldo in his team than Messi. But then this is the man who has demanded the sacking of Arsene Wenger for years. Arsenal are currently second in the Premier League! I remind myself that we know Morgan as the editor of the Mirror newspaper during an era when its journalism stooped to new depths. Although, as he told the Leveson hearing, that was nothing to do with him. Course not. Say no more.

Though I am not a fan of Gary Lineker the person for reasons I cannot go into here, I would much rather trust his opinion of Lionel Messi. The former England striker knew a thing or two about scoring goals at the highest level and, of course, knows what it means to play for Barcelona. Lineker tweeted: “Anyone still arguing? He’s the Messiah. I should know, I’ve followed a few.”

The difference between the excellent Cristiano Ronaldo and the sublime Lionel Messi is simple. It’s the unexpected.

Ronaldo is a one or, at most, two trick show pony. A fabulous footballer for sure, but he’s predictable. Most of us watching at home know what he’ll do next, as do the better defenders in the world. He can be stopped, by fair means on some match days.

Be honest. We never know what Messi is going to do next. Nor does the opposition. And, as his former manager and Barcelona fan Pep Guardiola said prior to the 3-0 defeat of his Bayern Munich side: “There is no way to stop him. If it hadn’t been for Messi, I’d be a third division manager.”

You can kick Messi. I’ve seen many a club try to stop him that way and it has been known to work. But the only person I would rely on to keep Messi quiet in a game is Messi himself. For the first part of this season Lionel Messi was in hiding. Then clearly unhappy with the new manager Luis Enrique, Messi looked a troubled man and rumours were rife he wanted away. The powers that be at Barcelona wouldn’t let that happen. Just as well. If they had, we’d have been deprived of that display last night. Up against some of the best defenders in the world, Messi made them look silly. And then, for the second goal, he cheekily lifted the ball over arguably the best goalkeeper in the world.

Watch here. Sorry about the annoying soundtrack, nothing to do with me!

I’ve been lucky. I’ve seen some of the finest footballers play the game and witnessed some of the greatest goals ever scored. But it’s 1970 since I saw a player as good as Lionel Messi.

With quick feet, an agile mind and skills you cannot teach, Lionel Messi last night silenced the doubters forever. And if you want to argue that he’s not the best, take it up with Gary Lineker.

Lionel Messi is the greatest footballer of his generation and, for me at least, second only in the pecking order of greatness behind the one and only Pele. Some who were not alive to witness Pele in the World Cup of 1970 rely only on archive footage. But that’s not an accurate way to judge a past player. You had to be alive to see him play in real time. As is the case with Messi.

If someone, including Lineker, wants to argue that Messi is better than Pele, I’ll not put up a fight. But he’s not. At least not yet. But it’s not something to argue over. Their respective skills are something to celebrate. I’m just very glad to have been alive to witness the greatest footballers of the past 50 years play the game. And score goals that lead to my backside parting company with the sofa.

My generation of football fan has been blessed.


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